Heaven's Gate - Part 5

Aeryn fumbled for the lighting controls, easing the illumination up until she could make out John’s hunched
figure and the dark blob of his hair on the far side of the bed.  They’d fallen asleep practically intertwined, but
she’d felt it when he had rolled away from her in the middle of the night, his body retreating out of habit.  Now it
looked as though he was trying to merge with the bulkhead, tucked into the corner made up by the bed and the
aft wall of the sleeping quarters with his back turned to her.  

She pulled a pillow under her ear and watched him sleep, aching for the day when he would resume his
unflagging pursuit of her.  There had been times in the past when she could barely restrain herself from lashing
out at him physically to get him away from her, but since he’d become the one to draw away she’d learned to
miss his constant hovering presence.  No matter where she’d been over the last cycle, no matter how dispirited
she’d become during the long search, the memory of his warmth and love had hung over her like a protective
cloak, a single certainty that there was a haven for Aeryn Sun somewhere in the universe.  With two simple
words last night -- ‘all right’ -- he’d wrapped that cloak securely around her, sucking her into the sanctuary
she’d been seeking.  

The trip to Moya would take another seven solar days, barely enough time for them to learn about the things
that had been endured while they had been separated.  Once they were back aboard with their friends, their
time to sit and talk would almost certainly disappear under the weight of day-to-day life aboard Moya.  They’d
found it hard to set aside time to talk in the past, there was no reason to believe that would change.  

Aeryn tugged at the covers, pulling them off John’s shoulders gradually so he wouldn’t wake, wanting to use
every single peaceful microt available to get to know him again.  He was as heavily built as ever, the
delineations of muscle, tendon, and bone blurred by total relaxation.  John sighed and shifted, burying his head
in the pillow, the tendons in his neck showing clearly for a microt before disappearing beneath the tanned skin.  
The scar on his back glistened in the dim light, resembling a benign trickle of water as it wandered from
shoulder to spine.  She tugged the covers down further and squirmed closer to examine the brutal track,
thinking of the internal pain that had caused him to seek this injury out.  There were several new scars on her
body, but none as fierce as this one, none that would have caused as much damage as this would have
inflicted.  

“Wha?” John mumbled sleepily.  She didn’t answer, hoping he wasn’t awake.  “Anything wrong?” he asked,
pushing out of his corner.  

“Everything’s fine.”   

He looked over his shoulder, smiling sleepily at her.  “No more fistfights?” he asked, referring to his unknowing
attack arns earlier.  

“You tried hugging me to death at one point, but I think you were awake then,” she said seriously, trying to keep
a smile from taking over.  His pleased grin broke her resolve, the corners of her mouth tugging up before she
could stop it.  Aeryn propped her head on one hand, asking, “Did I injure anything permanently?”  

“The boys have recovered.”  He gazed at her, studying her for several microts, then smiled as he said, “I like
your hair like that.”  Aeryn swept the loose tendrils together where they streamed over her shoulder, and
tossed them behind her.  “On the other hand, that’s not a bad sight either.”  He turned on his stomach and
wormed back into the pillow without taking his eyes off her.  

Aeryn leaned forward to trace the wandering scar, John’s shoulder blades scissoring together as her finger
approached the center of his back.  She stopped where the erratic arrow came closest to his spine, the livid
tissue pointing like a destination marker, and probed, feeling the edges of the bony protrusions a fraction of a
dench away.  “That was close,” she noted, continuing the journey along the smooth stroke of a rib, leaning
across his back to find the end of the trail.  

“Bit messy,” he agreed.  

“Must have hurt.”  She explored a gnarled bump where the scar terminated on his side.  

“You don’t seem to understand just how drunk I was that night.”  He touched her ankle where it rested near his
shoulder, tracing the outline of the bone with one finger.  “Probably helped me survive the impact.”       

Aeryn slid down next to him, fitting belly to hip and throat to shoulder.  “In that case, I’m glad you were drunk,”
she said softly into his ear.  John turned to look at her, then slid his head tentatively across the pillow while
checking for her response, and kissed her.  It was brief and so light as to barely qualify as a touch, but it was a
kiss.  She waited, her chin resting against his shoulder, examining the blue eyes from an eye-straining distance
of two denches, and then he kissed her again, longer and with more need.  

John rolled away from her, pulling her after him as his back came up against the bulkhead with a loud thump.  
She went willingly, letting him pull her against his chest, feeling the strong arms wind around her in an embrace
that she hadn’t felt since Talyn.  His hand explored her back, wandering from her hips to the back of her neck,
finding the wonderful spot beneath her ear and rubbing it gently with his thumb until her gut tightened and she
needed something more than kisses to satisfy what he’d awakened.  She had shown the other one that spot,
but this one couldn’t have known.    

“How did you know about that --”  The question disappeared under a sigh as his thumb circled there several
times, resulting in a gut-tightening shudder of desire.  

John tilted her head back and lipped a caress on the underside of her throat.  “I didn’t.  I couldn’t reach any
further around you the way you’re lying on my arm,” he laughed into her shoulder.  “It must have been fate.”  
He nuzzled her, beard stubble scratching, his free hand joining the leisurely petting that seemed to have a
purpose other than arousal.  This was John Crichton, making it difficult to remember that this man didn’t know
her body intimately.  She closed her eyes, enjoying the tactile investigation of her surfaces, small touches
interspersed with longer strokes, the arm beneath her flexing with tension as he kissed her again.  She
burrowed into his warmth, looping a leg over his, finding a type of security that had been missing for too long.  

“That’s enough,” he announced, using the last bit of room between him and the wall to pull away from her.  

She opened her eyes to join in the joke, her smile fading when she saw that he was serious.  John gave her the
tiniest of nudges, encouraging her to roll away from him, and she responded before she could think to stop
herself.  

“I thought … ”  She sat up, looking down at him perplexed.  “That was nice,” she observed, uncomfortable with
the role of initiator.  She didn’t know how to pursue him physically because she’d never had to before.  

“It was nicer than nice, but we’ve barely learned how to talk to each other, Aeryn.  Shouldn’t we work on that
problem first?”  His fingers wandered lazily up and down her forearm as he waited for her response, sending
out an entirely different message than his words.  

“No,” Aeryn said firmly, rolling into his arms, “we shouldn’t.”  

He gathered her in willingly, the last of the hesitation disappearing as he sat up with her and pulled her into his
lap, holding her in place as he turned to lean his back against the wall.  She closed her eyes as he kissed her
sternum once and then he slid her top over her head, freeing her breasts.  It was too close, it was unavoidable
… it was exactly how he’d started that night aboard Talyn.  

He uses both hands to delicately finger the soft underside of her breasts, gazing at her as though he’s just
discovered female anatomy for the first time.  His eyes move from face to shoulders to fingertips and onward,
restlessly cataloguing her surfaces, gazing into her eyes for longer moments, watching her watch him.  He runs
one hand down her arm, rubs a thumb along the underside of her wrist, surprising her with the fast tingle of
pleasure generated by what she thought was an innocuous spot.  He fumbles for her hand, places his hand
palm-to-palm with hers and intertwines their fingers, and she grasps him tightly as his other thumb brushes
once across her breast, and then he lowers his head and touches her with his tongue.  She takes in a sharp
breath, and he strokes her more firmly, his fingers clasped tightly although hers stretch open in reaction.  He
sighs, his soft exhalation nearly lost behind Talyn’s hums, nuzzles her lightly between her breasts, and changes
sides.

Aeryn ran her fingertips into the hair at the back of his head, breathing deeply as John’s lips found the second
nipple and brought it to arousal with a slow, insistent coaxing.  She tried to pull her hand loose from his, to
break the comparison, but he held her more tightly and sucked more of her into his mouth, working at her more
vigorously with his tongue.  She let out a small cry of delight, and he laughed against her, shifting to get more
comfortable beneath her.  

He shifts, the hard thrusting shaft inside his shorts making itself known as he explores the territory forbidden to
him for so long.  Her hand is released and she wraps both arms around his shoulders, feeling the muscles slide
under warm skin as he works at her a little harder, until her sighs turn into louder shuddering gasps and she is
pulling at the back of his neck to keep him close.  He hums as he tips her backwards onto the bed, hooks his
fingers into her waistband and her briefs are gone.

John knelt between her legs and looking down at her, the dark shadow of his beard the only discernable
difference until she looked into his eyes and saw the cycles of loneliness feeding a hunger that she’d never
seen in John Crichton before.  

“I love you,” she offered, the only thing she could think of that might leach away the hurt.  His eyes rose from
where he’d been slowly stroking her thighs and the blazing grin emerged, masking the remnants of the damage
he carried.

“I love you,” he returned, and his thumbs rubbed hard against the hollows at the top of her legs, drawing her
apart.  He hadn’t shed his shorts yet, hiding nothing as his erection thrust hard against the thin cloth.  The
shorts were different, helping to keep them straight in her mind, because there was only one John Crichton.  
“Are you sure this is right?” he whispered, rubbing the backs of her thighs and encouraging her to bend her
knees.  And that was different too.  

“Yes.  This is perfect,” she answered, sitting up to embrace him.  One strong hand slid behind her hips, the
other encircled her shoulders, pulling her firmly against his chest as she kissed him.  He lifted her easily,
tucking her into his lap as he knelt on the bed, her pelvis rubbing hard against his thickening length and he
shuddered inside her arms.  

“Is this all right?” she asked mischievously, working her hips against him with a slow cadence.   

“Oh yeah.  Perfect,” he gasped.  She took his head in both hands and tilted it up to meet her, renewing her
knowledge of his lips, enjoying the abrasive scratch of his beard.  She scrubbed her fingers through his hair,
pushing it backward so it stood up on end like a ruff, then flattened it down, because she’d left it standing
straight up on the other occasion.  John’s hand left the small of her back, questing lower to run smoothly across
her buttocks, accompanied by a long sigh against her lips.  He looped it under her thigh and pulled her leg out
to the side, then reached between their bodies.  

His fingers stroke her so gently, like no one ever has before.  She wants to watch, but her eyes close of their
own accord as her entire body implodes, leaving only the sensation of his fingers moving between her legs.  He
teases her, touching one finger to the point that begs for hard pressure, and then leaves it there, suggesting
there’s more coming without actually giving it to her.  He lowers her into the pillows so his other hand can
participate, ensuring that no surface goes unexplored.  Her breath begins to emerge in small yelps when he
uses a firmer stroking, nudging her knee to one side with his own, then he replaces his finger with a thumb and
she cries out.

She opened her eyes in time to watch him smile with delight, brushing one hand across her belly as she lunged
into his grasp with her hips, hoping for more.  

“Ssshhh,” he calmed her with his voice, and stroked her stomach where it was hollowed with tension.  “You are
beautiful,” he murmured, and yet a microt later he abandoned her.  He backed away, sliding his thumbs into the
waist of his shorts, but that was how it happened before.  

“Let me,” she asked.  He returned to her side, moving close so she wouldn’t have to sit up, and she pulled hard
against the front of the waistband to free his erection, and then tugged them down to his knees.  He looked
down at himself, then at her, stuck because he couldn’t get the shorts the rest of the way off without getting up.  
They laughed together at the impasse, and he stepped off the bed and kicked them into a corner when they
dropped around his ankles.  

He turns toward her, his excitement apparent, and she views him for the first time, pleased with the hard lines of
his hips, long angling hollows along his flanks, the forest of hair across his chest that thins to a dusting across
his stomach, returning as a dark pelt as it drifts lower.  He’s no different than a sebacean, his contours pleasing
as he rejoins her in the alcove, ducking slightly because Talyn’s not full-grown, and he’s warm and hard resting
against her thigh as he leans over her to kiss her once more.

John winced slightly as he straightened up from his embrace.  “Did I damage the boys?” she asked quietly,
reaching to stroke the abused organs.  Every muscle in his stomach and chest sprang into clear delineation as
her fingers delicately explored him, moving deeper between his legs to stroke the smooth skin behind his
tightening balls with a single finger, tickling him one more time before moving down the inside of his thigh.  He
closed his eyes and swallowed hard as he visibly hardened in response to her teasing.

She reversed direction, working her way back up the inside of his other leg until she reach the target again,
running two fingers along his length as she watched his toes curl tightly.  One hand struck out toward the
bulkhead in an attempt to steady himself, the other hand braced on her knee, and he let out a long shaking
breath.  

“Ohh, they’re fine now,” he panted.  “Yuh, they’re happy.”  She laughed, pleased by the look of mindless
pleasure she could create with a single touch.  He shook himself once, then looked at her with the hunger back
in his eyes.   

He takes his time, pausing often to kiss her, caressing her until she shakes from head to toe with unfulfilled
desire.  No one has ever been this gentle or caring.  The hard pressure thrusts against her, retreats, returns to
begin the pleasurable stretching of muscles designed for this one moment.  He leaves and she cries out with
disappointment, but he declares her not ready and jacks her up to an unknown level of excitement.  And then
he’s inside her at last, supporting himself with his arms as he hovers over her, looking down at her with love in
his eyes, and she’s warm and comfortable in a way she’s never known in her life.

Aeryn ran her hands along John’s upper arms and over his shoulders, meeting his cadence with her own
efforts, discovering that this was a leaner, stronger John Crichton, who could arch down over her to kiss her
without strain, who could support her in a more pleasurable position with a single hand, and who was even
gentler than he’d ever been before.  Her moment approached, summoned with the help of the long massaging
strokes from behind her shoulders to her hips and back up her belly and ribs.  John straightened up so he
could put his hands to better use, finding and encouraging the portion of her that cried out for a small touch.    

His quiet laugh sends an extra shiver down her spine as she cries out, the nervous explosion dissembling her
body into a multitude of spasming delights, then putting her back together so that the one final overload of
aching sensation can ripple from the core of her outward and leave her gasping for breath.  She looks up into
the stubble-framed smile and can’t remember which one this is because there has never been anyone except
John Crichton.  He massages her stomach as the last vibrations die away, and then he closes his eyes, diving
deep into his own needs.

She caught one of his hands as he finished easing her hip to a position where a muscle cramp wouldn’t claim
her, and interlaced her fingers into his so he couldn’t pull away.  Climaxing together was frantically exquisite,
but she enjoyed this moment almost more, watching his jaw begin to drop, eyes barely open and unseeing as
he listened to a single portion of his anatomy.  The tendons in his neck began to stand out as his breathing
grew ragged, working loose in small grunts that were so quiet it sounded as though he were whimpering with
delight.  Aeryn watched as the hollows developed along the fronts of his hips, the large tendons standing out
like cables, and his hand clutched convulsively at hers as he came.  

She rocked her hips up, continuing the cadence but more gently as John’s head fell back on his shoulders and
he froze in the induced rigor mortis of climax, every other body part malfunctioning as a single organ took over
his life.  He let out a long sigh and took in another breath, his hand easing its grasp.  Aeryn shoved against him
hard, coiling one leg behind his leg and thrusting into his hips, catching him before he was truly finished.  Her
motions controlled him for the long extra moment, coaxing a continuation of the original ecstatic expulsion that
brought a dark flush to his chest and ripped a long groan out of him.  

He grabbed at her hand, shoved hard one last time and then sighed, seeming to collapse in on himself as his
head dropped and his muscles relaxed.  He let the rest of his breath out with a long groan, dropping down over
her, catching himself on his hands to keep his weight off her.  

His eyes are still closed as she smoothes the sweat soaked hair back on both sides of his head and kisses him
carefully, leaving him plenty of time for catching his breath.  “Oh lord,” he sighs after several microts have
passed, and he opens his eyes.  “I love you,” he says, letting most of the weight of his head drop into her hands.
“I love you,” she says, guiding his head down to rest on her shoulder.  She rubs his back, liking the way the
heavier muscles in his back taper to his waist.  He continues to gasp for air so she gives him more time to
recover, working her way up the knobby ridgeline of his spine, finding the wandering arrow-shaped track
across his back.  One set of fingers trace that proof of his identity, the other cups his jaw in her palm, a fit so
perfect it must have been preordained, and brings him back for one more kiss.

“I love John Crichton,” she told him one more time.  

“Is that why you tried to kill me at the end?  I think my heart stopped.”  

“Do you need help with that artificial breathing technique?” she asked, rubbing the back of his neck.  

John lowered himself onto her, held her tightly, and rolled them over.  “Yes,” he answered, looking up at her.  
Aeryn kissed him, taking her time, only breaking the contact when he sighed against her cheek.  

“Better?” she asked, lying down on his chest.    

“Uh huh,” he sighed, apparently content.  

The only noise for the next quarter arn was the almost subliminal hiss of the air circulating through the vents,
punctuated at random intervals by the quiet ping of the hull adjusting to small inconsistencies in the near-
vacuum of space.  

Aeryn drifted half asleep, thinking about John past and present.  Their time aboard Talyn had been a wonder of
passion and tenderness.  It was as if someone had fused two elements that didn’t belong together into a single
fragile construct that defied science every moment that it existed.  That creation had been irrevocably shattered
by his death, leaving nothing but the razor sharp fragments.  

They had picked up the damaging shards together, ignoring the lacerations as they sought to build a new
treasure out of the old.  She had provided the impetus, but in many ways it was John who had reached out to
pick up the handfuls of slivers, bleeding from a dozen small wounds as they stacked the existing, familiar bits
into a new pattern, and fused it together with their commitment to each other.  It wasn’t the rare and beautiful
object from the past.  It was an uglier item, but they’d assembled it themselves, and it would be sturdier for their
effort.  

They had time now -- time for him to listen to where she had been and what she had learned, and time for her
to understand how he’d learned to survive on his own.  They had time now that he’d agreed to stay with her.  

“John?” Aeryn broke the idyll, shifting against him.

He yawned and stretched beneath her.  “Yeah?”  

“What made you decide to give us one more chance?”  She traced a small pattern on his chest with one finger.  
“You made it sound like you’d decided not to risk it.”

“I had,” he answered, gazing at the ceiling.  He held her in place and shifted to one side, getting more
comfortable.  

“What changed your mind?”  She rested her head against his chest and listened to him take a deep breath, the
movement of air through his lungs a slow susurrence beneath her ear, providing a quiet background to the
beating of his heart.  

“Do you remember what you said about being with me now, going with me, and not leaving?”  She nodded
without lifting her head.  “The way you said it sounded a lot like a verse from one of Earth’s oldest religious
texts.  It’s a passage about a guy who wakes up one morning and discovers that he’s been sleeping where the
gate to heaven is located.”  

“I don’t understand how that made you change your mind.”  

He hugged her tightly.  “The struggle to enter through heaven’s gate would be an entire lifetime’s endeavor,
more difficult than anything else a human being could dream up.  But the reward for success would be
immeasurable.  It would make the entire effort worthwhile.”

Aeryn didn’t move for a few microts, overwhelmed by his description.  The only thing she’d forgotten about John
Crichton was just how deeply he loved her, how completely he would commit himself once he decided it was
what he wanted.  “And you made up your mind just like that,” she said, raising her upper body so she could
watch his expression.  

“Just like that,” he confirmed.  A twitch of a grin flickered then disappeared.  Aeryn gave him a small thump
against his shoulder with her fist, demanding that he share the hidden thought.  “I decided that the reward
waiting for me was worth the effort.”  

“What was the reward?”  

He cupped her face in both hands and lifted his head to kiss her, one thumb moving across her cheekbone.  
“You, Aeryn Sun.”  


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Part 4                                                                                                                                     
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