Rating: Primarily rated G. Part 5 is rated NC-17.
Category: Alternate Universe.
Disclaimer: The characters and vision of Farscape belong to Henson, Co. I’m only playing with them a little bit
in order to keep us all amused.
Time Frame/Spoilers: This story takes place after ‘Dog With Two Bones’.
Beta-Reader: Scrubschick. Despite her claims that she’s not a good beta-reader, Scrubs showed me where
this story had gotten ‘lost’, and what needed to be done to pull it back where it belonged. She kept me on track
right down to the last paragraph.
Note To The Reader: Please keep in mind that both ‘Cloths Of Heaven’ and the first draft of this story were
written before any of the Season 4 episodes had aired, thus earning it the AU classification. This story has
been very heavily edited since that time, but I tried to remain consistent with the storyline developed in ‘Cloths
Of Heaven’, which means it runs contrary to what has occurred in Season 4.
This story got yanked out of cold storage because of a request/comment from scrubschick, and the last section
was added very recently. So aside from taking the credit for beta-reading, she also has to take the blame this
time … the ending is for her.
The angst is for gbbarb, the Queen of Angst.
Hope you enjoy it.
* * * * *
Aeryn Sun stepped through the hatch of the small craft carefully, never knowing quite where John would be
lying each morning. His nightly twists and turns tended to take him all over the cockpit floor, turning his neat
pallet of blankets and cushioning into a rumpled nest by morning. He had somehow gotten himself tucked
underneath the consoles this time, still on the layer of spongy hydrocell baffling they taken out of the sound
dampening layer of the aft bulkhead, curled into a ball between the two piloting seats.
She knelt down, about to tug at one ankle to wake him up, but paused for a moment to watch him sleep. The
again-brown hair was rumpled, standing up in odd tufts and spikes on one side of his head and matted flat on
the other, clear evidence of which side he preferred sleeping on. There was a new scar on his back, a silvery
track that wandered from the top of his shoulder blade almost to his spine, then making a fast accurate strike
under his arm to his ribs. She wanted to touch it, to trace its path with her fingers in order to explore the
damage that it must have inflicted on its host, but he frowned suddenly, one hand twitching lightly in response
to whatever he was seeing in his mind, and she backed away instead.
“John,” she intoned quietly. “Wake up.” She stretched to the full length of her reach and tugged his ankle.
She’d tried jostling his shoulder the first morning, and he’d had her on the deck with his forearm across her
windpipe before she even knew he had moved. They’d hung in that position for almost five microts, frozen just
short of disaster while he made the transition to full waking awareness and was able to take the weight off her
throat. Each wakening since then had been made at a judicious distance from him, giving him plenty of time to
pass out of sleep before she moved closer.
Aeryn tugged at his ankle a second time, and the coiled body unwound all at once, spinning around to face her
and bolting upright at the same time.
“Crap!” Crichton clutched both hands to the top of his head where he’d just smashed it against the underside
of the console, falling back onto the rumpled pile of blankets and makeshift mattress. “Damn that hurt!” He
continued to hold his head in both hands, the lean muscles in his chest and stomach showing plainly as he
stretched back into the scattered bedding, waiting for the pain to subside.
“You need to sleep somewhere else, John.” Aeryn waited until the clenched eyes relaxed a bit before
broaching a subject he’d refused to discuss several times already. “This isn’t working.”
“Aside from the occasional concussion it’s working fine,” he argued.
“You’re exhausted, you’re starting to make mistakes with the computations, and if we run into trouble you’ll be
useless.” She continued to crouch near his feet. “There’s enough room in …”
“No,” he said emphatically, cutting her off while continuing to rub his head. “We’ve been through this already.
You get the bunk, I get the camping equipment.” One hand struck out blindly, finding the bottom of the
console, followed by the rest of him as he sat up more carefully and edged out from underneath the
equipment. “Excuse me,” he suggested, gesturing for her to move back to he could wriggle out from between
the chairs. He worked himself free, then stood up, wrapping one of the blankets around him although it wasn’t
cold in the cockpit. He pointed at the hatch to the living quarters, raising his eyebrows in an unspoken
“I’m done. Do you want me to get us underway while you’re getting dressed?”
“Sure. No reason to hang around here, might as well get moving.” He dragged his bedding through the hatch,
tossed it into the storage area at the rear of the craft, then stepped into the small living quarters and pulled the
door closed behind him.
Aeryn knew his routine. He would take a shower before getting dressed, removing the overnight growth of
beard while he was in there, ultimately using up almost the entire remaining supply of hot water now that she
had indicated she was done. The ship’s systems would separate out the contaminants, use a distillation unit to
purify the water, and the entire supply would be available tomorrow so they could start the routine over.
When he emerged they would eat their First Meal rations silently, take turns piloting the craft exchanging only
the information necessary for navigation, eat their Midday and Last Meal rations silently, and at the end of the
solar day they would find an empty piece of space or a planet to orbit while they slept … separately. It had
been like this for fourteen solar days, and would almost certainly continue like this for the next six, resolving
nothing before they reached Moya.
Something deep inside her took it as a given that if they reached Moya and put themselves back into the
company of their friends in their current icy standoff, their relationship would never proceed beyond the current
level of polite tolerance. Aeryn listened to the water start to run, ignored the pending nav computations, and
ran the possibilities through her head again and again. After his small breakdown the first day aboard the
prototype ship, John had withdrawn back into the angry shell he’d built around himself, unwilling to discuss
anything that had happened to him during the preceding cycle and a half, equally disinterested in her
There was something damaged inside him, a deep festering wound. It had nothing to do with the new scars
she’d seen, nothing to do with the lean, slim body without any residual body fat, nothing to do with the almost
feverish intensity that resided within him, the intensity that burned away any surplus weight and left him
exhausted every night. It had something to do with the crazed light she sometimes caught in his eyes when he
thought he had turned far enough away from her that she couldn’t see his face. The damage was evident in
the speed of his reactions that left her recently honed reflexes wanting for quickness, and in the way the pulse
pistol seemed to fit into his hand like it was born there … like it fit into the hand of a Peacekeeper.
And the damage had been there, raging, whenever she had sat to his left in the pilots’ seats with her knife
handle showing at the top of her boot. Three days earlier she had turned unexpectedly to find him staring at it,
the glare of madness in his eyes that magically transported her back to the last days of the neurochip when no
one had felt safe around John unless he was in chains. That night after they had separated to go to sleep, she
had moved stealthily to the back of the craft and had jettisoned the blade as a precaution. He was too quick
now, too strong, and she didn’t know if the mad light was directed at her, himself, or the knife.
* * * * *
Crichton finished toweling his hair and sat on the edge of the single bunk to pull on his boots. Aeryn was right
about his level of fatigue and the mistakes he’d begun making with the navigation calculations, but he didn’t see
any way out of his present predicament. He’d heard the voice in his sleep for the first time in a long time the
fourth night they’d been aboard the ship. It was the voice that begged, the voice that pleaded through a
blood-clogged throat for him not to do it, not to drive the knife deeper. The nightmare that had haunted him for
the best part of a cycle had returned uninvited, but instead of being a participant he was a spectator this time.
The events were the same, but his impotent role as bystander was new and left him more shaken than the
dream ever had in the past. And the dream returned night after night, leaving him panting and sweating in his
tangle of blankets every time.
He stands beside the pair, watching with fatalistic curiosity as the taller figure in black leather holds the young
Peacekeeper up by the front of his uniform, turning his head to one side so he won’t have to look into the dying
eyes. Dispassionate curiosity is his only emotion as the taller of the two figures stands hunched slightly to one
side, the stolen fuel cell tucked precariously inside his jacket, threatening to slide loose if he moves too far in
any direction. The dying young one reaches up with one fumbling hand and pulls at a sleeve, crying in fear as
his training deserts him, too young and inexperienced in the cruelties of battle to hang on to his indoctrination,
even though it has been instilled since his recruitment as a child.
“I’m sorry,” the tall one whispers, and pulls the knife out, blood washing over fist and hilt, the black jacket pulling
tight around his upper arm as he tenses for the second drive into sebacean flesh.
“NO!!!” he screams at John Crichton, his nightmare distorted voice traveling in surreal slowness toward the pair
as he bellows to himself not to destroy the part of him that counted most. Crichton’s face is obscured by a
shadow as he turns to look toward him, toward himself, so he can’t see the expression there, but the hand
drives forward, completing the preordained stroke. “NO!!! Don’t do that, don’t do it. Stop!” He is over a cycle
too late. The blood flows, the face falls, the body sags. Knees buckle under both men, one in death, the other
in the death of his spirit. “No,” he cries to the one that still lives. “There had to be another way.”
Someone pins him to the cold ground, steel instead of gravel under his face and a knee is grinding into the
small of his back. “John! Are you all right?”
He’d awakened that first night face down on the deck with Aeryn kneeling on top of him, using her entire body
weight to hold him down. ‘Not really’, had been the answer that he hadn’t spoken out loud. He would have
preferred that the entire thing was a bad dream start to finish, a hallucinated vision that had never actually
taken place. “I’m fine,” he had mumbled into the deck finally. “You can get off me now.”
Aeryn had eased off him, taking her weight away from his shoulders and spine. “You were yelling.
I couldn’t wake you up any other way.” Her explanation had emerged in a rush on shaky pulses of air.
“What time is it?” He’d tried to divert the conversation away from the expected question about his dream.
“We went to sleep a couple of arns ago.” She had knelt next to him on the cold metal of the cockpit floor,
waiting silently for some sort of explanation.
He’d felt the vacuum around them that first night, waiting to suck the confessional description out of him to fill
the empty space between their souls. His sweat-soaked hair and damp shirt had cooled quickly in the mild chill
of the cockpit, but his shiver had been a combination of lingering dread and the unwillingness to revisit that
moment in his life by explaining it to Aeryn. “We probably ought to try and get some more sleep.” He had
turned away from the explanation that night, ignoring his own screaming need to tell her what it had cost him to
survive, and he’d felt no inclination to reverse that decision since then.
Crichton looked at himself in the mirror, grimacing at his reflection as he arranged the short brown hair into
some semblance of order with his fingers. That had been ten nights ago, and he’d managed to emerge from
the dream every night since then without waking Aeryn. He’d never had to suffer through it so frequently
though, not even right after it had happened. John licked an index finger and carefully wiped away a small
smear of blood from a shaving cut, then examined the rest of his reflection critically.
He looked like hell. Even he had to admit that he wasn’t getting enough sleep, and the mistakes he’d made in
the navigational computations to extend his time with Aeryn were no longer intentional. He’d made some
deliberate errors once or twice during the first couple of days to give them more time together, gradually
increasing the length of their trip by one solar day, but the mistake he’d made yesterday had been
unintentional and had nearly put them into the clutches of a binary star. And their time together was turning
into a trial, not a pleasure.
He considered cranking up the rhotarri engines and finishing the trip in a hurry. The coordinates Aeryn had
given him for Moya could be reached in a single jump without excessive risk. He could drop Aeryn off at the
leviathan, say hi-goodbye to whoever was on board, and the pain would be over. The others had chosen to
leave a cycle and a half ago, pursuing their own goals. There was no call to misplaced loyalty, no allegiance to
be fulfilled -- he could bid them another goodbye and go his own way without guilt. He could even return to his
plodding life with Gallenn where the mindless routine smothered the constant ache inside his chest that got
worse every time he thought of Aeryn or his friends. John stuck his tongue out at his reflection.
“Wimp. Suck it up,” he told himself, took a deep breath and went to join Aeryn for another long day in the
* * * * *
Aeryn had forgotten just how frelling stubborn he could be when he was hurt or angry. John was staring out the
front view port, his gaze carefully trained away from her even after four arns. She had remembered his sulks
with painful accuracy, but had forgotten the depth of his obstinacy. Or perhaps he had gotten worse, she
conjectured, trying to match her memories against this silent, sullen person. Another half day wasted, another
half day closer to Moya and the promise of an unfulfilled relationship for the rest of their lives. The frustration
that had been building over the past fourteen solar days was reaching nearly uncontainable levels. She’d
made her decision that she wanted to be with John Crichton, hunted for him for almost a full cycle, found him,
battled through his anger to get him to admit that he still wanted to be with her … and couldn’t complete the
emotional obstacle course.
They needed more time together, she decided. John would break down eventually, as long as there weren’t
other distractions to divert them away from a much needed confrontation. Aeryn got out of her seat without a
word, headed for the hatch leading to the back of the craft.
“They won’t come out,” John said, examining the displays in front of him with exaggerated interest.
She stopped halfway through the hatch. “What won’t come out of where?”
“I fastened the power relays into place so you can’t pull them again.” He was still staring at the console,
unrelenting. “I did it a few nights ago while you were asleep.”
Aeryn kicked the bulkhead in frustration. “John, talk to me. We need to discuss this before we get back to
He shook his head. “You were right a long time ago -- what we need is less talk and more space.”
“Then this entire trip is a waste of time. You could have gone back to your life as a tech and I could have found
some other transportation back to Moya. Coming with me only makes sense if you’re willing to listen.”
John sighed and nodded. “You’re right.”
A vibration of excitement ran up Aeryn’s spine. He was finally going to open up, she thought. He was finally
going to work with her to resolve the wounds they had inflicted on each other.
“You’re absolutely right. This trip is a waste of time.” He flipped a large power switch, and an odd itching
sensation crawled over her body from bottom to top. “Kind of unpleasant the first time, but you get used to it
with a little practice,” he said over his shoulder. John’s fingers rapped a fast dance across a panel he hadn’t
used yet, figures flashing into life on a display to one side.
“Say ‘Hello, Moya’,” he sang out and slapped his hand down on a palm sized activation circuit, depressing it with
a single violent motion.
“No, DON’T!” she yelled, realizing that he was about to cut their trip short. There was an ear-splitting whine
from the rear of the ship, the noise climbing from nearly subliminal to deafening in less than a microt, then there
was a quiet crack and the view of the stars changed abruptly.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *