(First posted January 22, 2002)
Category: Alternate Universe because it got run over by the canon of the show.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine, and I won’t profit from this.
Time Frame/Spoilers: None. This all takes place decades in the future.
Note to the reader: This was posted one month after I’d begun writing. The four month hiatus after
Fractures was still in progress, which was giving me plenty of time to write, but also meant that a lot of plot ideas
eventually got run over by the end of Season 3, (not to mention all of Season 4). Not much to tell about this
one, except it remains one of my favorites, and was the first time I deliberately aimed for the reader’s tear
ducts. It was also the first time I built the story around a quotation or lyrics to a song. You’ll begin to see that
happen more frequently after this.
Hope you enjoy it.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Bookends (Simon & Garfunkel)
Time it was, / And what a time it was, / It was
A time of innocence, / A time of confidences.
Long ago -- it must be, / I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories; / They’re all that’s left you.
* * * * *
The waves smashed into the rock ledge, hurling themselves ashore with clockwork regularity, then reluctantly
letting go, grasping with wet fingers as they ran back out to sea. He sat on a ledge out of reach of the spray
and gazed, mesmerized by the flood and flow, unaware of time’s passage. His eyes watched the cormorants as
they dove and ducked, weaving beneath the surface between strands of kelp and seaweed, but nothing
seemed to register as he sat and stared. Finally, a long sigh escaped his lips and his focus changed to include
the scene before him, noting the long, heavy Atlantic swell that spoke of a storm coming, possibly a Nor’easter,
but not for a few days yet. The skies were still clear.
He became aware of the cold seeping from the rock outcropping beneath him, slowly chilling his body, and got
up gradually, allowing his cramped aging muscles additional time in order to adjust to the new position. The
sun was starting its slow downward slide behind him. It was getting late; he probably ought to be getting on
“Professor Crichton?” A young female voice came from behind him. He turned to see who had sought him out
in this barren place, then remembered the call, his assurance that he could be found here, at this time, on this
“Yes. You’re the beautiful young lady who called me yesterday?” He smiled and walked to meet her, watching
her blush slightly.
“Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I’m Sisu Loijas.” She took the offered hand and shook it, surprised at
the strength in his grip.
“I’m John, not Professor Crichton … okay?” He waited for a response, and when he got a nod, continued.
“Interesting name. Perseverance?”
“Yes! Well, not exactly but that’s pretty close. Not too many Americans bother to learn Finnish, but you speak
it?” She was obviously stunned that he had understood what her name meant.
“No, I learned to understand it some years ago, but not to converse in it. You on the other hand speak
excellent English. Which do you prefer?”
“I actually still think in Finnish, I have to convert in my head, but,” she gestured toward him, “I understand
English much better than I speak it.”
“Go ahead and speak Finnish then, I can work that way if it’s more comfortable. Let’s walk and you can tell me
what you wanted to talk to me about.” He thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pants and turned to
follow the neatly graded path where it ran through the trees along the headland.
She found herself having to hurry to keep up with the deceptive saunter. She hadn’t expected a man of his age
to move so quickly, so athletically. “I’m a journalism student at Metro College …” Crichton almost enquired as
to which college she was referring to, but caught himself as he remembered that all the different city colleges
had been merged into THE Metro College, each one becoming just a branch campus.
When the sprawling cities had merged to run uninterrupted from Augusta, Maine down the entire eastern
seaboard to the tip of Florida, the entire burgeoning megalopolis had simply been renamed ‘Metro’ -- the
names like Boston, New York, Washington and Charlotte had all ceased to mean anything.
He dragged his attention back to what she was saying. “ … and I’m working on a class assignment that covers
the space missions of the final two decades of the last century, and I wanted …” She faltered and broke off as
she watched his shoulders drop and his head turn away from where she came to a halt, beside him as he
“I’m sorry. If there’s a problem, I don’t have to do an interview at all. I just thought it would make a better article
if I could get your actual perspective of what it was like to take the Farscape into a different universe. Yours
was the last great mission.”
“Ahhh, poor Sisu. I didn’t take the Farscape anywhere at all. It took me. I was just a test monkey who screwed
up his first experiment.” The last phrase was delivered in a peculiar cadence, as if he had said it many times or
was repeating someone else’s words. “It’s all right, I’d be happy to talk about it. But only about flying the
Farscape, not about what happened on the other end. Will that suffice?”
“That would be great.” She was relieved, this assignment counted for a large percentage of her class credit
and she had been counting on this particular interview to ensure a high class ranking on her project. “May I
start by asking what is going to sound like a very strange question?”
“Strange used to be my middle name, fire away.” The charming smile had returned and he began to walk
again, but at a pace she could match this time.
“You ARE Commander John Crichton, right? The astronaut?”
He looked at her in amusement but somehow she didn’t feel any derision in his gaze; he was an unusual man.
“You were right, that is a strange question. Why are you asking when you already really know the answer?”
“Well, I looked you up and you’re supposed to be seventy-six years old.” She was at a momentary loss for
words. “But it’s obvious that you’re younger than that. You don’t look over fifty!” She blurted the last part out
and then looked away from him in embarrassment, not sure she should have picked a number even that high.
She was suddenly concerned that she might have just insulted him. But he began to chuckle, a rippling laugh
which forced a smile onto her face as well.
“Space travel is a funny old thing, young lass. By the time you’re done firing around at velocities near the
speed of light, jumping through anomalies, and winding through wormholes, the aging process gets slowed
down pretty good. I’ve picked up the customary aches and pains since I came back, but I spent almost twenty
years out there at close to a chronological stand still while everyone here just kept ticking along. That gave me
some time, and there were other side effects from some …” He sought to find a word. “… different kinds of
things. I’ll probably make it to about a hundred and fifty or so, maybe more.”
“That would be great if we could all do that.”
Something dark and cold moved over him then and she took an involuntary step, moving further away. “No,
you would never want to pay the price.” Then he smiled again and he was the same charming person who had
been walking with her just a moment earlier. “So tell me what sort of things you need to know in order to write
up this assignment of yours.”
* * * * *
The visit from Sisu had left John feeling stirred up, mixed up and depressed. He had agreed to show her the
Farscape module, which stood in the garage at his home outside Bar Harbor. The military had allowed him to
keep the small white craft after they had finished their analyses. He had gotten it back in pieces, but once he
had been forced to retire from teaching at the University, he had been left with plenty of free time on his hands.
It had only taken three months of leisurely work to put it back together. Now it just stood abandoned under a
dust sheet in the back half of his garage.
He walked around the battered ship, fingers brushing each burn and dent, remembering how it had picked up
each and every injury. His mind filled in the details with excruciating accuracy. He had been so positive that
those memories, those feelings, had been buried permanently, but it had only taken fifteen minutes for the
locks and bars to come off the carefully constructed cage in his mind, to let the pain and loneliness loose once
He stood beer in hand, and leaned into the cockpit staring at the biomechanoid components. The feel of the
raised flange where the canopy seated cutting into him beneath his armpits was as comforting as old slippers.
How many hours had he spent leaning into this cramped space, seeking the modification that would allow him to
travel home? He reached in and flicked the main power bus and the indicators lit up one by one, the cadence
still known. He carefully worked the modified flight control system and heard the quiet whispers as maneuvering
thrusters fired in compensation. Everything worked. If he had the correct fuel cell even the Hetch Drive would
function. He tapped the main circuit again and the lights faded out.
He turned to lean against the side of the module, staring at the personal transport vehicle parked next to it.
‘PTV,’ he thought. ‘What an idiotic name. It’s a fre -- just a fucking car.’ He took another swallow of beer. He
hadn’t slipped like that in years.
The biomechanoid fuel cell technology was the only thing he had brought back that had been adapted for use
on Earth. The ground vehicles ran quietly and cleanly now, non-polluting, and the fuel cells were easily
replaced and recharged. But humanity as a whole had been frightened by the warnings he had brought home,
and instead of preparing for the dangers that lurked in the universe, humanity had turned away from space
forever, willing to give up interstellar travel if it meant not being found by other species.
He stepped outside to close up the garage and noticed that it was rapidly getting cold. He glanced up at the
twilit sky and saw it was an absolutely clear night. He decided to spend it the way he spent most clear nights
these days. He hurried inside the house and changed into heavy woolen pants and a thick sweater, and then
went back to the kitchen and grabbed two more beers out of the fridge. Before slamming the door he stared in
at the food there, deciding whether to grab something to eat as well. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast and knew
that he had begun losing weight again. He closed the door gently without taking anything, turning to tuck the
bottles into the pockets of an old coat that hung in the rear hallway. He carefully shrugged into the jacket and
went out the back door.
The cool air kept him from sweating as he cut behind the garage and started up the hill through the woods.
After a half hour of carefully picking his way up a rough but frequently traveled path, he broke out into the open
on the hilltop, the view stretching out for miles around. He could see a few marker lights at the marina, and one
or two lights out to sea. Inland there was nothing to see. The sprawl hadn’t penetrated this far north yet, and
the eager, the hopeful had moved away from this area to join the mindless competition in the city.
This hill and the view, and the absence of surrounding lights were why he had bought this particular house.
When John had finally found his way back to Earth, his father had already died and his sisters had sold the
family house. He had felt completely uprooted, an alien in his own land, and despite numerous invitations from
his sisters to go live with them, he had chosen to buy this small piece of land in Maine, well outside Metro,
where he had at last found some peace and comfort.
It was almost completely dark now, so he walked carefully but with the confidence of long familiarity until he
reached the heavy wooden chair he had hauled up here one hot June afternoon. He smiled as he remembered
that battle, but it had ultimately been worth it. He eased down into it and pulled out a bottle, rapping the cap
loose on the arm of the chair. The wood there was battered and chipped from hundreds of such motions. He
carefully tucked the metal cap in his pocket and guzzled down the first third of the beer. He sighed, stretched
his legs out, and breathed in the cool, pine scented air. As the last of the light faded out of the sky, the stars
sprang into view overhead, undiminished by mankind’s competition.
He rested his head against the back of the chair and stared upwards, occasionally sipping his beer and fell
back into his memories. She was up there somewhere, living her own life now. He had left her to come home.
Stubborn, blind, pig-headed, single-minded desire to return to Earth had driven him to leave her, to leave her
behind when he finally understood the secret, had the machinery to use it, and she hesitated to come with him.
John Crichton sat alone in the dark on his home planet and ached for the chaos that he had willingly given up.
He spoke to the skies above, words that he had repeated night after night for more than twenty years, “I miss
* * * * *
“Upstairs, kitten.” His baritone floated down the stairs. Leslie McDougall Jensen bounded up the stairs,
“Hey mister, Gran called and said you wanted to talk to me.”
He turned in time to catch his grand-niece as she launched herself into his arms for a hug. He spun her around
and then set her down where he could get a good look at her. At twenty-one, she was the spitting image of her
great-grandmother, Leslie Crichton, at that same age, and he had never been able to bring himself to call her
by her given name. He had a never-ending list of pet names for her, and he loved her more fiercely than he
loved anyone else in his family, but he had not called her by her true name even once since the day she was
“You’re looking a little tired, Wiley E.” She had assigned him an equal number of nicknames over the years.
“Did you sleep up top again last night?” She had felt honored when her famous and mildly eccentric great-
uncle had invited her to come with him up the hill one night when she was almost fifteen. Before he could
answer, she looked at him more closely and gasped. “Uncle John, you’ve gone back to a military cut. No!
Your gorgeous hair!” She reached up and ran her fingers through the short dark strands, roughing it from
front to back. Ruffling it like … back then.
John caught her cruelly by the wrists, pulling her hands away, then let go just as quickly when he saw the hurt
and confusion in her eyes. He stepped forward and wrapped her in his arms. “I’m sorry sweet pea, you just
surprised me.” He looked over her head at his reflection in the mirror to see the still-thick, mostly dark hair
standing straight up on the top of his head. He released her and flattened it down again. It looked too much
like another time and place.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered. He crouched to look directly into her eyes.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, Miss Kitty, so don’t apologize. You’re right, I’m tired and I over reacted. No
damage done? Right?” She glanced up to see him looking her over with his eyes crossed. She lightly tapped
her fist against his temple, ‘knocking’ his eyes back into alignment -- a game she had learned when she was
“All right,” she sighed and her smile returned. “But don’t let it happen again.”
She looked at what he had been doing in his room. “You’re packing. Where are you going?”
He stepped past her to the bureau to pick up a brush, to finish flattening the short hair. He had never gone
silvery-white like his father, and it was a source of enormous envy among his male relatives and in-laws that at
seventy-six, his hair was only lightly touched by gray and his hairline hadn’t receded at all. He turned around to
see Leslie refolding some of his shirts for him, more neatly than his efforts had yielded.
“That’s why I asked your mother to have you come over here. I’d like …”
“So I could fold your shirts?” she snickered.
He hung his head in mock defeat. “Smart mouthin’ always did run strong in the shallow end of the Crichton
“But it was Gran who called me. She seemed worked up about something. She was worried about you.”
He tossed some pants in her direction, followed by a sweater. “I called your MOTHER,” he tried again,
“because I need to get away for a little while to think a few things through, and I was kind of hoping you would
agree to move out of Metro and take care of the house for me. And I’m doing just fine!” He flung some more
shirts at her head.
She deftly ducked under the flying clothes and launched herself at him a second time, golden blonde ponytail
flying. He grunted as he caught her weight again. “Aargh! You’re getting too big and I’m getting too old for
this stuff.” But he returned her excited hug with fervor.
“You knew I’ve been wanting to get out of Metro, but I couldn’t afford it, Mr. Albert Einstein’s stupid younger
brother. You big jerk!” He hid his flinch by setting her down. The day was turning into one reminder after
another. “Of course I’ll look after the place, and I’ll have friends come up to stay, and we can have parties, and
we can drive the PTV … oh, you’ll be taking that though, so we’ll just have to use the module to pick up more
beer and munchies.”
“Excuse me, Miss Smart Mouth, but I want this place back the way I’m leaving it, so don’t trash the place. I do
not want to find a sign saying ‘Animal House’ in the middle of the front lawn when I get back.”
It was all a joke, and they both knew it. She was mature far beyond her years, much like her great-
grandmother, and he had always had complete faith in her no matter what the situation. He had trusted her
with details of his life that he had never told anyone else. She was the one he had confided in on the hill that
night when she was fifteen. He had finally broken down and told only her what he had left behind in his
stubborn, single-minded desire to return home.
It had been a difficult burden for a fifteen year old experiencing the angst of adolescence herself, but the
darkness had helped. It was something she always suspected he had planned, why he had told her there on
that particular black moonless night. His detached voice had floated out of the dark, the sorrow washing past
her as if she were sitting in the surf at the beach letting the water run past her legs.
When he finished, there had been only the silence of the summer night breeze as it crested the hilltop. She
had groped through the lightlessness and found him, hunched and shaking, the pain of what he had cast away
wracking his body. She had hugged him, knowing words could not heal, and he had taken her into his lap and
returned the embrace with desperate fierceness. The tables were turned, as they always eventually were, and
it was youth that now comforted age.
They had talked through the rest of that night of her hopes and desires, her aspirations and her friends, never
touching again on his past. When the first light of morning had struck the hilltop she saw that he was smiling
again, and read the trust and the pride that he had always lavished on her. They had never spoken of that
night again, but she had begun visiting him more often, and finally understood the concern in the voices of her
family when they spoke about him.
Her mood sobered, and she went back to folding his clothes, stowing them neatly in the large black duffel bag
he had laid out. “So tell me …” She paused, examined mismatched socks and tossed them back at him.
“What did you do to get Gran so upset? She was smokin’ this time.”
“We are brother and sister; sometimes it doesn’t take anything at all. I supposed you never had that happen
with your brother, hmm?” He tossed a substitute pair of socks into the open duffle and walked past her into his
bathroom. “She wanted to know where I was headed, and I haven’t made up my mind yet. I told her I didn’t
know where I was going, and I’d let her know as soon as I got there. She started prying, and then I started
getting angry, and then she started getting angry, and then I got angrier, and then she got … ”
“I get it! I get it! THANK you!”
He brought his shaving kit in from the bathroom and tossed it into the duffel.
“Now, as for you Punkin’ Head, how about you go for a walk and give me some time alone to finish getting
pulled together, and when you get back I’ll take you out to dinner.”
“I love you, Uncle John.” She stretched to give him a kiss and ran down the stairs, hooting with excitement.
“I love you too, Kiddo,” he called behind her. The door slammed and the house was quiet and empty again.
* * * * *
The waves smashed into the rock ledge, hurling themselves ashore with clockwork regularity, then reluctantly
letting go, grasping with wet fingers as they ran back out to sea. She sat on a ledge out of reach of the spray
and gazed mesmerized by the flood and flow, unaware of time’s passage. Finally a long sigh escaped her lips
and her focus changed to include the scene before her, noting the long, heavy swells that spoke of a storm yet
She became aware of the cold seeping from the rock outcropping beneath him, slowly chilling her body, and got
up gradually, letting her cramped muscles adjust to the new position. The sun was starting a slow slide out of
sight behind her. It was getting late; she probably ought to be getting home.
“Jerrett! What are you doing out here? This is a little off your usual route,” she gently teased her ‘foster’
nephew, knowing the fifteen year old was primarily interested in young women these days. She gave the young
man a welcoming hug. “And you know your mother doesn’t like you calling me that. She’s always concerned
how your real aunts will take it. ‘Aeryn’ will do fine.”
“I hadn’t stopped by in a while, and just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“Checking up on me more like it. I don’t normally need handsome young men looking out for my safety. You’re
well aware of that.” In the first years after she had settled on the Royal Planet, Aeryn had tried to lose her hard
edges, tried to soften her inbred self-sufficiency, but had finally realized that she would always be different from
the other Sebaceans on this planet. She eventually decided to just be the person the years had molded,
finding that her friends loved her for her strength and steady disciplined spirit.
When she had first returned, she had renewed her relationship with Dregon Casanova, the man who had
enthusiastically pursued her so many years ago. And although they had formed a lasting friendship, she had
never been able to let her emotional guard down long enough for it to become anything more than that -- a
friendship. He had gracefully acquiesced to her demand to break off the romantic relationship, and had
eventually found a compatible mate. That bonding had produced six fine sons, the youngest of which now
stood beside her. She was pleased for Dregon, and was secretly thrilled whenever Jerrett or any of his
brothers called her ‘Aunt Aeryn’.
“I thought you might just enjoy some company. Are you headed back to the house?” Aeryn suspected that the
young man had something else on his mind, but she knew better than to try and dig it out of him. His mother
had trained all of her children to easily recognize when someone was attempting to pry, no matter how subtly.
“I have one stop to make before that.” She looked at him more intently. “Is that why you’re here? You showed
up last week, too.” His sheepish look was all the answer she needed. “Jerrett, I go there because I WANT to, it
isn’t something that is going to hurt me.” She gave him a quick hug, his shrug acknowledging that he
understood her double meaning when she said ‘hurt’. There was physical pain, Aeryn thought, and there was
emotional pain, and one was easier to cope with than the other.
He still walked alongside her, though, showing no inclination to leave her company. They followed a trail
beaten through the short grasses that bordered the edge of the Barren Lands where Aeryn had gone to watch
the surf. She had discovered a strange area where the Barren Lands, the shore headlands, and the forested
regions were all within quick walking distance, and it was there that she had procured permission to build her
house. She took solace in the walks through the different climatic zones, reveling in the change in land
features and temperatures.
They walked single file now, Aeryn in the lead, winding through trees and finally climbing a small hill to a
clearing in the forest. Jerrett hung back at the edge of the trees and let her go forward alone, as she did every
week. In the center of the clearing was a patch of ground where no plants grew. Despite a deep burial, the
radiation would not permit anything to take hold there, and after more than four decades, the ground was still
covered only with dead leaves and the needles from the sweeping coniferous trees.
Aeryn stood for a long time looking down, then raised her face to the sky and spoke to someone else instead,
the person she spoke to every week. “I miss you.”
She walked back and linked her arm with Jerrett’s. “Come on, I’ll walk you home and say hello to your mother.”
* * * * *
Jerrett ran up to Aeryn’s small house and stuck his head in through the open doorway. “Aeryn? Are you
here?” There was no answer from inside. He shivered in the cold air that always seemed to surround her
home and looked around the grassy area that surrounded the building and led down to the small lake. There
was no sign of her anywhere. He counted back in his head and realized she was probably up in the clearing
this afternoon. He started around the side of the house toward the path and almost ran into her.
Aeryn was caught up in the memories that assaulted her each time she visited the grave. She had begun to
find their company reassuring rather than disturbing. She held those memories to her now as long as she
could, cherishing the good times that had been interspersed with all the difficult moments. She hadn’t heard
Jerrett’s call, buried in her mental visit with lost friends, and only saw him at the last moment as he barreled
around the corner of the building. Reflexes honed over decades took over and she stepped neatly aside to
watch as Jerrett tumbled over into the grass. He rolled over twice and bounced back to his feet.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
“Freezing to death, but otherwise just fine. Why is it always so frelling cold here, Aunt Aeryn?”
“Microclimate. It has to do with the lake, the hill and the surrounding transitions, but it will always be ten or
twelve degrees colder here than all the surrounding terrain.”
“And you LIKE this?” he rubbed his bare arms vigorously, looking at her equally bare arms incredulously.
“We are both Sebacean, Jerrett, but I was born and raised in space. Your ancestors have been on this planet
for over two thousand years, and they have begun to evolve, to adapt to higher temperatures. But I’m not of
the same lineage, and I need it to be a bit cooler to be comfortable.” She looked out over the still water of the
lake, and something infinitely sad seemed to enter her body. “And I wanted to be near the lake. It means
something special to me.”
“Memories!” He slapped his forehead, a gesture he had learned from her. She remembered who she had
learned it from and fought to hold back tears. The day was turning into one reminder after another. “Mother
told me to come get you. Princess Katrala needs to communicate with you.”
“Katrala?” Aeryn was baffled, the Princess and her husband, Tyno, were still frozen as statues and were not
due to be reanimated any time soon. The royal couple could communicate with those around them, but it was
extremely rare to be summoned into their presence. “You’re sure she said Katrala.” She watched to make sure
he wasn’t making up information to replace something he had forgotten, but she could see that he was being
* * * * *
Jerrett’s mother, a senator in the governing body of the Royal Planet for the last decade, waited for Aeryn
outside the acoustical hallway where the statues of the royal couple stood. She watched her young son
approach with the one-time Peacekeeper, and was impressed with how little time had changed Aeryn. She was
still physically fit and walked with a graceful athleticism. The loose, pale-colored clothing contrasted with her
dark hair, which showed only a hit of gray here and there. She knew Aeryn was probably ten or twenty cycles
older than she was, but the peculiar burdens of motherhood and raising six sons had aged her while time stood
still for Aeryn.
Jerrett came over to her and was subjected to an immoderate hug. Aeryn watched, her concern growing,
because Jerrett normally didn’t allow his mother to do that in public, and this time he seemed to want her to
hang on even longer. Something was bothering both of them. She began feeling unsettled, worry crept in from
around the edges of her attention.
“Jerrett gave me your message. What’s going on, Jena?”
“Please just come inside Aeryn. I’m afraid Katrala and Tyno have been asked to make a critical decision for
themselves and the entire planet right now, and they’ve asked if you could just wait a few minutes until they can
allow you into the hallway.”
Aeryn fought to batten down her annoyance. What did he used to call this? ‘Hurry up and wait.’ She shook
her head, but followed Jena and Jerrett toward a small waiting area located to one side of the large receiving
hall. Before they managed to shepherd her out of the huge chamber, however, her keen soldier’s eye spotted
something on a table in another room. She broke away and reached the table in a few long steps.
She looked down at the clutter of items laying there and picked up a pulse pistol. She turned it over and over
in shaking hands. She had seen this being packed, had seen him take it with him when he left. There was no
doubt in her mind that this was Wynona. She ran her hands through the scattered collection of items and
picked out his logbook as well. The pages still carried the small tight handwriting, so familiar, so missed. She
dropped both objects and grabbed the edge of the table as the room seemed to tilt beneath her feet.
Breathing deeply, she called to Jena who had stopped just outside the room.
“Where did you find these? It’s obvious you’re not telling me something, Jena. So right now before I come over
there and do my best to get it out of you by force, tell me what’s going on and why I can’t communicate with
* * * * *
“You couldn’t see Katrala and Tyno because they were busy deciding that I could stay on the planet.” The
deep voice behind her was shaking, unsteady with emotion. Aeryn tried to steady herself against the table, but
the entire room began to whirl around her now and she felt herself starting to slip to the floor.
Strong arms grabbed her, caught her, pulled her up, and enfolded her. He turned her to face into his chest
and held her safe, one shaking hand stroking her hair. She raised her head, her vision clearing, to look into an
older, sadder face. She reached to touch the rough beard, to stroke the graying hair at the temples. She
wiped away some of his tears and looked in disbelief at the moisture on her hand. It was real, he was here.
“When did you …” She tried to ask him how he had gotten here, when had he come, how long had he been
here, but the questions wouldn’t form in her throat. They were stuck. The one question she didn’t have to ask
was why he had come back.
John bent his head and kissed her. She could taste the salt tears, could feel the heavy scratch of the beard,
could feel the pulse pounding in his neck where she had looped one arm to pull him tight.
“To answer your questions, I came through five days ago, missed my entry trajectory a little bit, had to scramble
around to figure out where I was, and have spent four and a half miserable days jammed in the cockpit of the
module, which is now totally trashed and is never taking anyone off this rock ever again, because for some
strange, inexplicable reason I was a bit distracted and completely FRELLED the landing -- god, that felt good to
say -- and can we please go home so I can get cleaned up and we can go to bed?”
The last five words were muffled as he buried his face in her hair. She didn’t miss the significance of the
pronoun and didn’t know how to answer him. She didn’t feel the need to even answer him, but he was waiting
for something. “John …” she could still barely speak for crying, but found herself laughing at the same time, “…
all you ever do is talk.” He belied her statement by kissing her into silence.
“Please let me say it first. Aeryn … I love you so much.”
* * * * *
Jerrett allowed his mother to put her arm around his shoulders and pull him close as they watched the couple
walk back toward the house by the lake. They would walk side by side for a short distance and then John would
scoop Aeryn up and carry her. He’d put her down again after a bit, and then the scene would be replayed.
“Mom, do you mind seeing them together like that?” She had once confided in her youngest son why she had
been willing to just give the land by the lake to Aeryn.
“Oh Jerrett, of course not. Neither one of those two would ever be happy with anyone else. It’s just too bad it
took so long for them to figure it out.”
“But they have plenty of time left, right?”
“More than enough.”
* * * * *
Part 6: The Last Part
“Uncle John? Are you here?”
Leslie let herself in the door with the key John had given her the night before during dinner. He had been in
rare form, keeping her laughing through dinner until she could barely eat. He had teased her unmercifully,
which she had returned in full measure. His serious conversation, what there was of it, challenged her
significant intellect, and when he dropped her off at a hostel, begging a last night alone in his own home, his
pride in her had shone in his eyes unmistakably.
“Okay Mr. Seeeeeerious. Where are you?” she called again. This name was one he had begun using just in
the last couple of years, one he really seemed to enjoy. She had worked hard to catch his intonation so she
could use it on him as well.
The house was eerily quiet. She knew he wouldn’t have left without saying goodbye. She headed toward the
back door, intending to check the hilltop to see if he was asleep up there, but stopped when she spotted an
envelope taped to the refrigerator.
She ripped it loose and pulled out the single sheet of paper inside. It read: “I love you, Leslie McDougall
Jensen.” She stared at it for a moment, then dropped the paper to the floor and ran to the garage. She flung
the hallway door open in excitement, smashing it back against the wall. The PTV was still there but the
Farscape module was gone.
She leapt elated off the steps into the bare space in the garage and began to dance in circles, calling out to
him at the top of her lungs. “Goodbye Uncle John! I love you too! Yes, yes, yes, yes!” She continued her solo
celebration. “Go, Uncle John … AT LAST! Go find her at last!”
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *