DISCLAIMER: Farscape, the Farscape characters, and the Farscape universe are the creations of Rockne S. O'Bannon and are owned entirely by the Jim Henson Company and Farscape Productions. The use of these characters here is for entertainment only, with no intent to infringe upon the rights of the owners.
DEDICATION: This is for the Farscape_shippers, without whom I would be locked up, all alone, in my padded room. Thanks for helping me through the drought. Very special thanks to Mark Sherstone, aka Officer Don, for patiently listening to my rambles and holding my hand whenever I needed it.
Archiving: If it pleases you, be my guest. Just let me know where: email@example.com
This is my first fic, feedback is always appreciated.
Spoilers: DMD Post Ep
"The other night, dear
As I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear
I was mistaken,
And I hung my head down and cried."
You Are My Sunshine" by Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell
The Ice Planet:
The canopy of the Prowler shattered upon impact with the Module's landing gear. She flinched away from the intruding tire, working furiously to save herself and her beloved spacecraft. As bone freezing wind rushed through the canopy's remains, she felt the heart-stuttering plunge of the ship's descent. She wasn't going to make it. Cursing under her breath and struggling with the ejector controls, the former Peacekeeper finally managed to bypass the switches and released the controls.
Airborne. For a moment she felt the ecstatic rush of wind and air and the weightless wonder of flight. The valley stretched out beneath her in silent, panoramic splendor. She blinked against the glare of brilliant sunshine, gazing at the intense azure of the glacial sky. It reminded her of another, warmer, deeply-loved blue. As her gaze moved across the mountains to the vast snowfields below, the moment was gone. Gravity took its greedy hold on her ejected seat and hungrily drew it downward. Again, she experienced the belly-churning plunge of an atmospheric free fall.
The seat's boosters fired in a vain attempt to slow the uncontrolled plummet toward the frozen lake. She franticly tried to release the harness that secured her to the chair, but the catch was jammed, leaving her trapped. As she listened to her friends' voices pleading with her to escape, she finally realized her impending fate and something fledgling in her soul cried out, Not fair! Not yet! I just found... I just...But something older, darker, harder, quieted it and a sense of resignation descended upon her. It's okay, I've had a good run. Except for one regret ... she raised her face toward the circling Module, hoping for a glimpse of ... what? She must tell him, let him know that it was okay. She hoped he could understand, that someday he could forgive her and forgive himself.
"I hope you meant what you said in the neural cluster ... I did." She gasped breathlessly, hoping it would be enough. It had to be.
Shocking cold forced the air from her lungs when the seat hit the ice and plunged into the freezing water. A gray, glassy wave covered her head as she gazed up toward the brilliant sky. Suddenly a fierce, primal need to live swelled within her and she kicked with all her strength up toward the surface. Icy cold, rapturously sweet air filled her tortured lungs, then she made one final, desperate plea to the only one she had ever loved. "Crichton, Crich..." The deep, brooding waters greedily reclaimed their prize as she slid into the murky darkness beneath the frozen lake.
John Crichton, astronaut, awoke shivering, a scream clogged the back of his throat as he thrashed at the coarse woven blankets knotted around him. He took a few gasping gulps of air and then kicked his way out of the tangle of fabric, struggling to sit up. His head immediately began to pound as his sight momentarily blurred and darkened. Dizzy, he pressed his palms to his eyes and waited for the room to stop spinning. He took a shallow, hitching breath and opened his eyes to the gray misery that had become his existence.
"You're awake." A low growl drifted from the across the room. Crichton turned to see a tall shadow move from the cell's entrance as D'Argo stepped through. "You look like dren," the Luxan commented dryly.
The Human chuckled mirthlessly, "Oh, well - that's an improvement then." He rose to his feet with only a little difficulty, listing badly to the right for a moment, before regaining his balance.
Definitely an improvement, the Luxan warrior mused silently, yesterday he couldn't even accomplish that. He recalled running to the surgery chamber after the Peacekeeper forces had departed, only to find his friend lying deathly still on the operating bed, gray matter exposed, the life slowly draining from his body. The facility's surgeon lay on the floor writhing in agony as uncounted illnesses riddled his body. D'Argo shouted for help, watching with dread as the surgeon's assistant rushed in, restarting the cleansing phosphorescence of the biological neutralizer and aiding the helpless Human on the table. He had feared they would lose another ally that day.
Fortunately, Crichton had regained strength daily, quickly recovering under the facility's expert care. But the great Luxan feared his comrade would never truly overcome the loss they had sustained that fateful day. "John, you are lucky to be alive," D'Argo said as his thoughts shifted to the woman lying in a cryostasis unit nearby.
"If you can call this living," the Human responded numbly. His complexion was ashen, his normally bright, clear blue eyes opaque with grief and dull with self-loathing. "You should've let me die, big guy. Maybe..." His voice drifted off and he gazed at his hands despondently.
Concerned, D'Argo moved closer to the smaller man and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I came to tell you that Diagnosan Tocot has completed his recovery. He is grateful for our help against the Peacekeepers and has agreed to ... take a look at Aeryn."
At the mention of the ex-Peacekeeper's name, Crichton flinched. He closed his eyes and swallowed painfully. "Good. That's, that's wonderful ... tell him that anything we have, anything I have, is his for the asking." He crossed his arms over his chest against the burning pain that invariably accompanied any thought of Aeryn Sun. His love. The one he had murdered.
The Transport Pod, earlier:
John sat huddled next to the cold, still, dripping wet body of former Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun. D'Argo had finally handcuffed Crichton after the human had begged him to. John didn't want any more of his friends' blood on his hands. Aeryn! His heart cried out in anguish, God, I'm so sorry. He fervently wished that Scorpius had succeeded in taking him at the Shadow Depository, so that he would never have had the opportunity to harm her. He reached out and touched a chilled, sodden lock of dark hair and rolled it between his fingers. In a soft, strained voice he began to croon, "You are my sunshine... my only sunshine..."
D'Argo glanced over at his friend in concern. The devastated Human had slipped into an odd fugue state since they had pulled Aeryn from the water. Crichton had calmly helped them load the Module onto the transport and in a cold, empty voice asked to be restrained for the ride back to the facility. Since then, he had crouched next to their fallen shipmate, rocking and muttering under his breath.
"You make me happy ... when skies are gray..."
Crichton felt as though a Marauder had landed on his chest. His heart had frozen in his throat as he watched Aeryn fall from the sky. No matter how hard he'd tried since then, he couldn't draw a decent breath. The muscles of his chest seemed to be locked in a permanent clench.
"You'll never know dear..." his voice cracked and he whispered painfully, "how much I love you." He resumed his song with a shuddering breath: "Please don't take my sunshine away..."
D'Argo shook his head in disgust as the Human began his haunted refrain once again.
"You are my sunshine... my only sunshine..."
The Ice Planet:
The central storage chamber was a vaulting structure, stacked high with the frozen cadavers of countless species ready to be utilized as "spare parts" as required by the facility's surgeons.
"I don't get it." Chiana chirped nervously, "I mean, Aeryn's dead. Isn't she?" She tilted her head at her companions and then glanced over at the motionless figure standing next to the cryostasis unit. She lowered her voice in belated compassion. "I mean, how's this gonna do any good? Dead is dead, isn't it?"
Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, 10th level priestess of the Delvian Seek, stood in the center of a pool of blue serenity in the cold gray chamber. She gazed down at the tiny Nebari girl and shook her head sadly. "I do not know, my dear, but Tocot feels he may be able to revive Aeryn. He has some experience with Sebacean physiology, after all, and he believes that Aeryn's death was caused directly by exposure to intensely cold temperatures, hypothermia."
The Delvian glanced toward the tube holding the woman she had come to call "friend" over the past two cycles. "Sebaceans are unusually sensitive to temperature extremes, intense heat causes irreparable harm through heat delirium, but intense cold triggers a sort of 'suspension' of life. It is rather akin to the Peacekeeper Kill-Shot; it causes a state of 'lifelessness' rather than death. That is why Crais was so insistent we place her in cryostasis immediately."
"That frelling Greebol. We should never have trusted him." The young Nebari thief hissed. She glanced again at the dejected figure standing nearby and queried wistfully, "So, Aeryn might be okay, do ya think?"
"Goddess willing, Tocot also mentioned some microbes with restorative properties which live in the waters. Perhaps they may factor into her recovery." Zhaan knew that they were extraordinarily lucky to have recovered Aeryn's remains so quickly from the icy depths and to have had access to cryostasis. Unnoticed, she approached the unit and it's silent sentinel, regarding him with both sorrow and compassion. She shifted her gaze to the object of his fascination. No damage or decay had touched the countenance of the beautiful Sebacean, who lay like one merely sleeping.
She's like Sleeping Beauty. Crichton mused as he ran sensitive fingers reverently along the curve of the cryostasis unit that encased the one light in his darkened world. Or better yet, Snow White. Hair as black as night, skin as white as milk, lips as blue as... He stopped himself, savagely pushing away a spinning kaleidoscope of memories, each one focusing on her warm, perfect lips. Stop it Johnny-boy, this ain't no fairy story, and you ain't no prince.
He closed his eyes and suddenly he was in a freezing cold transport pod bending toward her upturned face hesitantly leaning in to breathe on her delicate skin as the rain fell on a sodden gray Sydney afternoon cradling her contentedly in his embrace under Pilot's console comforting her in his arms as she sobbed inconsolably sharing a honey sweet kiss full of promise and hope for the future Stop it, stop it, stop, stop...
Zhaan looked at her Human friend with concern as he growled under his breath. She gently touched his neck, momentarily sensing the torment he carried within. He opened dull, red-rimmed eyes and offered a watery, half-hearted smile to his friend.
"What's the word, Zhaanie?" Crichton asked wearily.
The Delvian smiled gently. "Hopeful."
It was a bone-weary crew that disembarked from the transport pod. Everyone kept a careful eye on the unnaturally quiet Human and the equally unnaturally docile Sebacean. This is not good D'Argo mused to himself as he stepped off the Pod he had piloted up to the still-recovering Moya. He hovered protectively near Aeryn, who was visibly pale and trembling. As she took the last step down, she faltered slightly, before doubling over in a fit of coughing. Everyone seemed reach for her at once.
John's heart stopped, and then restarted as he touched her, reconfirming that she was there, real, alive. The others deferred to him, to the pair's obvious bond. Aeryn turned slightly toward Crichton, trusting him to be there to hold and support her as he always had, but was surprised and wounded to find him stepping away from her. "John..." she said softly.
He shook his head, studying the toe of his boot. "Take care of her Blue." he murmured to the Delvian priestess before he fled into the bowels of the great Leviathan.
Aeryn gazed after him, perplexed. She shifted her gaze to her comrades, who wouldn't quite meet her glance. Zhaan gently took her arm and began leading the exhausted ex-Peacekeeper to the infirmary. "It's been a difficult time for everyone, my dear. John took your death very hard. We were all quite concerned for him, for a time." She shook her head sadly. "Thank the Goddess you have recovered, otherwise..."
"We didn't know what he might do." Chiana chimed in, her dark, liquid eyes betraying her concern for the man who had become her foster-brother in the Uncharted Territories. "He went a little fahrbot there ... afterwards." She picked up a pack and moved to help Jothee with supplies from the transport.
"He felt tremendously guilty," D'Argo growled from behind them, as he placed a caring hand on the Sebacean's shoulder. He recalled the grim hours following the dark-haired woman's 'death.' "I wasn't sure he would survive, or if he even wanted to."
Aeryn's eyes flew to her friend's. The Luxan nodded meaningfully. "We kept him away from sharp objects."
Aeryn awoke groggily sometime late in the ship's sleep period. Her eyelids were doubly weighted with fatigue and the effects of Zhaan's potions. And yet ... at first she wasn't sure what had pulled her from a profound slumber, but soon she glimpsed a shadow lurking in the chamber's darkened corner. A man-shaped form, just within her peripheral vision, shifted as she stirred.
"John..." she murmured softly, attempting to turn her sleep-heavy head.
The shadow detached itself and drifted quietly to her bedside. "Shhh... don't try to move. Just rest. It's okay, baby." Crichton whispered, gently stroking a tendril of hair from her pale face. He had lurked in the darkness for some time, struggling with the desire to leave her in peace and the driving need to be near her.
Aeryn yawned sleepily, then shifted restlessly on the infirmary cot. "Zhaan... gave me...mmm...sleepy..." she frowned as her thoughts fragmented and drifted away.
"She gave you something to make you sleep. Shhh ... I know." He chuckled softly. "Doesn't seem to be working too well though." He traced the arching line of her dark brows with feather-light fingertips.
"Miss you..." she breathed as her eyes drifted shut. She roused again determinedly and caught the hand that caressed her brow, tucking it against her cheek before slipping back into sleep.
Crichton wished, for a second, that time would stop, trapping them both in that moment forever. Then he snorted at his own folly. Stroking her silky, dark hair with his free hand, he began to sing softly: "You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray..."
Moya, three solar days later:
Aeryn walked slowly down the corridor leading to crew quarters. She hesitated at the entrance to the cell, uncertainty freezing her in place. Muttering a heartfelt, "Frell," under her breath, she inhaled sharply, pulled herself to full Peacekeeper attention and strode into the chamber.
The room's occupant regarded her with surprise. A very tense moment passed before the young Nebari rose from the chamber's bed and approached her tall shipmate.
Chiana had always felt ... intimidated by the physical presence of the striking Sebacean. Aeryn had always seemed so self-assured, so absolutely confident of her place and value. The young Nebari had always secretly envied Aeryn's wiry strength and lithe grace, not to mention her ability to draw male attention without seeming to try or to even notice.
The little thief thought wryly, Gah, it's not just Crichton, even Pilot loves her! Then she remembered all that the ex-Peacekeeper had been through in the last quarter monen, and decided to be friendly ... if Aeryn would let her.
"So ... hiya Aeryn. I'm glad you're feelin' better; we were all real worried." Forgetting her earlier intentions, the young Nebari slyly added, "Had Crichton really scared, y'know?"
"Thank you, Chiana," Aeryn said, pointedly ignoring the Nebari's last comment. "It's good to be ... well." She glanced down at the floor wondering how to broach the matter at hand.
The pause stretched to an uncomfortable silence.
"So...?" Chiana tilted her head, curious as to what was on the other woman's mind. She had an idea, but knew that the situation had to be pretty grim if the former PK commando was turning to her for help.
Aeryn gathered her courage. "Ummm, Chiana, I was wondering... that is," she paused and then sighed heavily, "if I could borrow...umm forget it..." She quickly turned to go.
"No, wait, Aeryn. What's up?" Chiana gave her shipmate her most guileless expression. Inside she was laughing with glee. Oh, this was going to be fun!
"Frell. I can't believe I'm doing this." Aeryn muttered under her breath. "I'm sorry, Chiana, it's nothing really, a mistake..."
"Aeryn, it's important if you came here." She smirked at the ex-Peacekeeper. "You despise me. Admit it." Chiana lifted her chin and peered up at her tall, poised shipmate.
"No!" Aeryn denied quickly, "Not despise. It's just - I just... I...don't like women who-" she blew out her breath in frustration,"-use their bodies to manipulate others," Aeryn said baldly. "I'm sorry, but I just don't understand it." She shook her head in confusion.
Chiana squinted and cocked her head to one side. "But using a pulse rifle to do the same thing is okay?" A slow, mocking smile crossed her lips.
"It's not the same at all! It's more... honest, it's straightforward." Aeryn couldn't believe she was standing here arguing philosophy with this ... this tralk! Frell you, Crichton, for driving me to this.
Chiana scoffed, "Yeah, straightforward. So, why're you here?" She enjoyed frustrating the Sebacean every chance she got. It was childish, she knew, but what the draz.
"Forget it, I said it was a mistake." The taller woman snapped.
Chiana knew Aeryn was at the end of her patience. Time to reel her in, easy as that. "It's about Crichton, isn't it?"
Aeryn's normally impassive face registered guilty surprise. "Wha-?" She shook her head in denial. "Of course not...!"
Chiana raised her eyebrow and smirked knowingly.
"Fine! It's just ... difficult, y'know. I ... he ... we ... its difficult," Aeryn finished lamely. She scowled at her boot tips, hating to be vulnerable to anyone, especially someone like Chiana.
"It doesn't have to be." Chiana purred. "Just listen to your body. It knows exactly what to do." She chuckled. "So does his. Easy."
"For you, perhaps." Aeryn said resentfully, secretly almost envious of the other woman's easy sexuality. She admitted it would certainly make her own life less complicated, but she also knew that route, in this case, was impossible.
She sighed in defeat. "He won't talk to me. The frelling Human won't even look at me! I..." Aeryn scowled, desperately trying to hide her pain from the Nebari.
Chiana tilted her head, intrigued. "So, what did you have in mind?"
John Crichton sat dejectedly on his bed, elbows resting on bent knees, staring at an object in his hands. He tried to take a breath, but the constant aching pressure in his sternum made that impossible. He hadn't been able to take a decent breath since he came back to his senses in the cockpit of his Module. Icy terror had gripped his heart as he watched her plummet to the snow fields below.
"I hope you meant what you said in the neural cluster ... I did." Her final words echoed in his mind, torturing him with their incipient promise. Promise, he mocked himself. You killed her. The only good thing you've ever found out here in frelling-Wonderland, and you killed her. He fiercely quashed the quiet voice that whispered she wasn't gone. She is for me. I only seem to hurt her. It's better this way. She had tried to approach him, tentatively, but he felt so ... filthy, so completely unworthy to even look into her eyes.
Her eyes. A cold shiver skittered across his shoulders and settled into his heart as he conjured up a memory of gazing into her eyes, soft and unguarded, thinking that he had finally found a home. A safe place to shelter from the turbulent whirlwind that was his pathetic excuse for a life. Not for you, Johnny-boy. Best get used to it. He sighed and focused on the object in his fingers.
Engrossed in his inner thoughts, he didn't hear the tap on the door. It repeated, slightly louder and with more authority. John looked up and frowned. He shook his head. "Nobody's home."
The door swooshed open and Aeryn stepped in. She was wrapped in a silky, silvery robe that slid over her curves in a sensual fall. Crichton abruptly lost the ability to breathe at all. Her glorious raven hair shone in the soft light of his chamber, falling across her shoulders and down her back. He hadn't seen her hair down like that in ages. He loved her hair. His fingers tingled with a fierce longing to slide through those silken tresses. Once more, just once more. He quickly diverted his attention to his hands, completely avoiding any eye contact. One look into her eyes and he was lost, and he knew it.
By avoiding her glance, he also avoided the hesitant look of vulnerability that crossed her face and then settled into a frown creasing her forehead. Aeryn bit her lip uncertainly as she closed the door and pulled the privacy curtain. Frell. she thought. She glanced down at her robe in consternation. Had he even noticed? Frell. Frell. Frell. I shouldn't have done this. He doesn't want me, he didn't mean it; it wasn't real. This was a mistake. Aeryn's doubts and uncertainties spun through her head at dizzying speed.
Stop it. She told herself sternly. You've committed yourself to this, get on with it.
"John?" She ventured hesitantly. Crichton continued to toy with something in his hands, ignoring her. "Crichton," she said assertively, "look at me." She licked her lips and took a few steps forward into the room.
"What do you want, Aeryn?" Crichton's voice sounded rusty, either from emotion or disuse, she wasn't sure. He sounded so tired, so defeated. Aeryn's heart contracted painfully; it hurt her to witness his utter dejection.
Gathering her dignity, and her robe, around her, she raised her chin and announced, "I want to talk."
John squeezed his eyes closed and tilted his head against the wall. "Nothin' to talk about, Aeryn. Just run along, I'm fine." No, no, no, no, no! a desperate voice in his mind screamed, don't go. Don't leave me. I need you! The human lifted his head and opened weary, bloodshot eyes. "Get out of here Aeryn, just, just go."
Aeryn was nothing, if not determined. She closed the distance between them and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to lightly touch his arm. She felt him stiffen slightly, but pushed on. "I meant what I said in neural cluster."
Crichton closed his eyes and tried to ignore the warm, living, breathing, beautiful woman sitting next to him. God help him, he could smell her unique fragrance. For the first time in days, the tightness in his chest loosened and he could breathe again. He inhaled deeply, smelling the sweetness of her scented hair and the warm, comforting undertone that was simply Aeryn herself.
John shuddered. Aeryn leaned forward, intent on reaching him, holding him, only to be pulled up short by the sleeve of the robe. She was sitting on the bell of the sleeve's deep length. "Frell," she muttered, trying to free it.
At her curse, John opened his eyes and looked at her. He took in the deep curving neckline, the mesmerizing view offered by the low-cut robe, the perfect lines of her collarbone, and that sweet, sweet dip at top of her shoulder. He abruptly lost the ability draw air again. He watched with interest as she struggled to free the length of cloth, muttering under her breath, "Stupid, stupid, frelling tralk...." As the absurdity of the situation struck him, John couldn't help it, he started to laugh.
Aeryn went perfectly still. Her strong, distinctive profile became frozen. Taking a few careful breaths, she looked at Crichton almost accusingly and then stood. "I'm sorry. This was a mistake." A look of shame and disappointment flitted across her face as she began to turn.
"No! Aeryn, please, no. Don't go." Crichton's heart was beating furiously as panic blossomed across his features. He raised his hand toward her and grasped the trailing edge of her wayward sleeve. "Please." He gazed up at her with naked longing in his sky-blue eyes. He wet his lips hesitantly, "It's not you, I just, I..." He shook his head and offered her a crooked smile, "Nice dress."
A wry smile teased her lips. "What, no 'Shazam'? I borrowed it from Zhaan, but Chiana actually picked it out. That, in itself, should have earned at least a 'huppa huppa' from you, Crichton," she said with mock bitterness.
John slid his hand along her sleeve and clasped her hand, pulling her willingly toward him. "That's hubba hubba, Aeryn, and that in no way even comes close to expressing how good you look to me." He stood, taking both of her hands and holding them to his heart. "You are so beautiful," he whispered in aching wonder.
Aeryn looked into his face and read the sincerity of his words. She suddenly felt light-headed with relief. Giving him a brilliant smile, she turned her hands, intent on clasping his to her. She frowned as she noticed a tickling sensation across her right palm and looked down.
"What's this?" She asked curiously, opening Crichton's left hand. He immediately attempted to close his palm.
"Uh, noth... nothing." He pulled his hand back as he glanced down. "Nothing important."
Concerned at the hectic flush which suddenly flared across his cheeks, Aeryn caught his left wrist and deftly turned it over. "Show me," she coaxed softly.
Crichton knew he was caught and reluctantly opened his fist. "It's just ... umm, I can explain..." In his palm lay a length of dark hair, tied in the middle with a bit of string.
Aeryn touched it, confused at its purpose. She glanced up at Crichton to see him biting his lip sheepishly. As understanding dawned, her hand flew involuntarily to her own hair and looked to Crichton for confirmation. "When...?"
Crichton touched a finger to the silky length and then reached to smooth a lock at the side of her face. "When I thought..." he trailed off uncertainly. "When I thought I had lost you, it was like the whole world just ... stopped making sense. All I could think was that I wouldn't ever see you, touch you, again. I just- I needed something to hold onto. So, I cut a lock of your hair. To hold onto. It's a Human thing." Blushing furiously, he half-heartedly extended his hand. "Umm, you can have it back ... if you want it."
Aeryn poked at the length of hair, a perplexed expression on her face. Then she shook her head and gave Crichton the patented I-don't-understand-you look. "No, you keep it." She closed his fist over the item and then met his eyes tenderly. "I like the idea of you carrying around a small piece of me with you."
His eyes darkened as they dilated slightly. He watched his hand slide down her jaw to caress the graceful, white column of her neck. "I hope you know," he whispered as he traced the lines of her collarbone, "that you carry the very best part of me with you." He dipped his head forward and breathed over the surface of the skin he had just touched. "You will always own my heart." He slipped his hand behind her ear and brought his lips to hers for a sweet, lingering kiss. John opened his mouth to welcome her warm, questing tongue as the kiss deepened with mutual desire.
The need for oxygen drove them apart a long while later. Aeryn bit her lip in uncertainty as she trailed her hand down John's arm. "Do you really think I'm beautiful?" she asked wistfully.
John Crichton smiled as he pulled her down to the bed below. "You take my breath away, Aeryn Sun." And for a short time, at least, a sense of peace filled their hearts.
Author's note: Insulin shots will be available upon request. :P