Mortal Fears
(First posted January 23, 2004)
Rating:  PG-13, for just a hint of gore.  
Disclaimer:  The characters and vision of Farscape belong to someone else.  I have not profited financially
from ripping off their creation.  I hope the opportunity and finances present themselves so the real owners can
bring them back for some more fun, love, angst, and adventure.  
Spoilers/Time Frame:  This would take place some time after Season 4.  There is the barest hint of a spoiler
for late Season 4.  
Beta-reader:  I’ve gone over to the dark side tonight.  (Blame it on too much Mountain Dew and a
magnificently boring shift at work).  This was written rashly, and I would never drag a beta-reader into the
position of sharing the blame for this one.  All my fault.  

*  *  *  *  *

The waiting area is painted in pastel colors.  He assumes it is an attempt to calm whoever has to sit here for
arns at a time.  He hasn’t seen anything like this room since he left Earth.  It seems a bit out of place for this
part of the universe, as does the gum-popping receptionist who keeps smiling at him for no reason.  A small
crowd has gathered since they sat down.  They don’t come in through either of the doors; they just appear.  

“Aeryn?”

“Yes, John.”  

Her voice floats toward him in slow motion, as languidly relaxed as everything else in the room.  Even the fish in
the tank cruise about in cheerful, effortless circles.  One of the guppies stops near the glass and smiles at him.  
He doesn’t remember fish having teeth and lips.  This one does.  It looks like Milton Berle when it grins.  It blows
him a kiss with one tiny fin, and then resumes its lazy circles.  

“Is Scorpius supposed to be here?”  The half-breed is sitting in the corner, reading a copy of People.  That
doesn’t seem right either.  Scorpius isn’t wearing his cooling suit.  Now that he knows what Scorpy looks like
undressed, he prefers the ominous black leather get-up.  

“He’s not here, John.  It’s just the two of us.”  Her fingers rub the back of his neck, giving him something tangible
to focus on.  It helps him remember that Aeryn is really there.  It’s difficult to figure out who is real and who is
not.   

The door opens.  Two more people walk in and sit down.  At least they have the manners to use the door this
time.  It’s less disconcerting that way.    

“Aeryn?”  

“What?”

“Are Zhaan and Stark here?”  He watches the pair suspiciously.  Stark is blue today, and Zhaan is wearing the
Astro-boy outfit and the half-mask.  She’s sprouting daisies along the exposed side of her scalp.  This is the
first time they’ve swapped skins.  Usually it’s only their clothes that they trade back and forth.  

“No.  It’s just you and me.  Concentrate, John.  You know if you ignore them, they’ll go away.”  

“But D’Argo’s here.  Right?”  His buddy is using his qualta blade to carve a huge heart into the wall of the
waiting room.  It encloses the classic KD + C statement of eternal love.  D’Argo finishes the heart and starts
working on an arrow.  The receptionist doesn’t seem to mind the artwork being gouged into the pastel decor.  
“Hey, D’Argo?  When you’re done, could you do one for me and Aeryn?” he asks.  JC + AS.  Just thinking about
it makes him feel a little better.  

“He’s not here either, John.  He died.”

He tries to scratch an itch on his nose.  His hands stop short of his face with a metallic clank.  After staring at
his wrists for several microts, gleaming binders magically appear, pretending that they’ve been there all along.  
The cuffs are tethered by a chain to another set around his ankles.

Aeryn presses his hands back into his lap, taking the strain off both his wrists and his ankles.  “What do you
need?” she asks.    

“I forget.”  He stares at the binders and the chains, considering his predicament.  D’Argo has finished the first
heart, and is working on another that contains M-OG + JC.  He doesn’t like that one very much.  “D’Argo’s
dead?”  

Aeryn hums a quiet affirmative.  

“Did I kill D’Argo?”  

She doesn’t respond, which is an answer in itself.  He’s supposed to be raging around the small room with
anger, furious that this has happened, distraught beyond rational behavior.  He’s supposed to be upset.  
“Aeryn?”  

“What, John?”  She’s starting to sound impatient.  

“Am I drugged?”  It’s the only explanation for the fuzzy floating sensation inside his head and the lack of
emotions.  

“Yes.  We had to drug you after you killed D’Argo.  We didn’t have a choice, John.”  

“That’s okay.”  He thinks about his surroundings for a few more microts, wading through the thought-clogging
effects of whatever they are using on him.  “Is Jimmy Carter here?”  The ex-President is near the entrance,
getting ready to knock down a wall so they can expand the waiting area.  It’s getting too crowded.

“John, close your eyes and concentrate.”  He obediently shuts out the silent crowd of more than thirty people
and does his best to cooperate.  “We’re the only people here.  The Diagnosan is going to take care of you
next.  He’s going to fix this.  There’s no one else in this chamber.  Concentrate.”  

“Strength?” he asks, remembering a conversation from long ago.  

“Strength,” Aeryn confirms.  

He opens his eyes.  They’re alone at last, but unfortunately they are also in the principal’s office of his
elementary school.  “What did I do wrong this time?”  This might be the time he put Nathan’s math book in with
the tarantulas, or maybe it’s the afternoon he discovered that it was possible to set off the sprinkler system by
getting a bunch of his friends to flush every toilet in the building at the same time.  

“You didn’t do anything wrong, John.”  It’s Mr. Hendrick’s voice coming out of Aeryn’s mouth, which is more than
slightly disconcerting.  He watches her suspiciously, unhappy with the alteration.  Aeryn continues talking with
the principal’s voice as though nothing has happened.  “We got rid of the neural clone, but it was in there too
long.  Your brain chemistry has been altered.  The Diagnosan is going to attempt to repair the damage.”  
Halfway through the explanation her voice slides from Mr. Hendrick’s reverberating bass up to Aeryn’s
smoother, more feminine tones, and keeps right on going.  Now she sounds like she has been around Rygel on
one of the Dominar’s more gaseous days.  

He thinks about her description for a while, distracted by Jimmy Carter’s efforts with the remodeling and the
arrival of a sheyang dressed up like a ballerina.  It is not a pretty sight.  Something clicks inside his head.  “Am I
schizophrenic?”  Thinking is becoming a bit easier.   

“That’s what you called it. The Diagnosan had some other word for it.”  

“Am I paranoid?”  

“You always have been.”  She pulls him toward her and lightly kisses his temple.  “Yes,” she answers more
seriously.  “It’s severe, John.”  

“Did I kill D’Argo?”  He finds a clear memory, one that isn’t blurred and befuddled by drugs.  The luxan’s body
lies in an expanding puddle of blood, mutilated, looking like a wild animal had torn into the warrior.  He hunches
forward, close to being sick.  “I did, didn’t I, Aeryn?  Oh god, I killed him.”

Everything is clearer now.  The drugs are wearing off.  

“Strength, John.  Hang on.  It won’t be much longer.”

It happens quickly.  Everyone has left.  They’re alone in a metal walled room.  There is no receptionist, no fish
tank, no Scorpius … no D’Argo.  There is only Aeryn, and the chains restricting his movement, and the voice
inside his head:  One voice, demanding, masterful, incessant, ordering him what to do.  

“Aeryn, the drugs are wearing off.”  He has time for a single burst of concern for her, and then everything else
is lost to that one voice.  

“John?  Who is talking to you, John?  Who do you hear?”  She’s on her feet, hand resting on her pulse pistol,
taking a step away from him.  “Who do you hear talking to you, John?”  

It’s glorious.  Everything makes sense.  The magnificence is singing in his head, clear and without any of the
intricacies that used to make all of his decisions so difficult.  The pain of his past actions fades away, leaving a
single-minded devotion to that amazing harmony.  It climbs to a deafening crescendo, bursts over him, and he
knows what he has to do.  There must be a sacrifice.  The voice demands it.  There must be an offering of
blood -- gallons and acres of blood to appease the voice.

“John, who do you hear?”  Aeryn must be yelling now, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to hear her over the voice.

“God.”  Mortal flesh can snap chains when the need is great enough.  

She never gets her pulse pistol out of the holster.  

*  *  *  *  *

“Oh, God!”  He tries to sit up and can’t.  He can’t move at all.  “Oh God, no!  Oh, please.  No!”  

There had been lakes of blood, snaking rivers of sebacean blood.  A wild tapestry flung with happily expended
energy across pastel painted walls.  The memory is clear and sharp.  

A burst of cold hisses into the side of his neck.  A microt later he’s unnaturally calm, happy to lie on his side
until eternity finally arrives, letting the universe play out its drama without him.  It’s beginning again.  Someone
has reset his life.  He’s restrained, drugged -- time to bring in the rest of the players.  He doesn’t care who
shows up this time, as long as he doesn’t have to kill anyone this time.

Aeryn appears out of nowhere, arriving like Milton Berle fish, deceased luxans, Jimmy Carter and Swan Lake
sheyangs.  She kneels down beside him and looks into his eyes.  “He’s awake.  He looks a bit more coherent
this time.”  

D’Argo, the deeply missed deceased, joins her, bestowing that familiar squinting-eyed smile upon him.  “Same
wager?”  

“One hundred crendars,” Aeryn agrees.

“If you lose again, you’ll owe me more than your Prowler is worth.”  

Their conversation is every bit as nonsensical as what had been going on in the waiting room.  He makes an
idle mental note to never depend on dead people to make any sense.  He aches.  The drugs aren’t enough to
relieve the pain in the center of his chest.  Whatever they’ve given him isn’t sufficient to quash his emotions
entirely.  He misses Aeryn.  He speaks to her ghost.  “You’re dead.  Go away.”  

“I win again!” D’Argo says with a booming laugh.  “He still isn’t making any sense.”  

Aeryn ignores the gloating going on behind her and rubs one thumb across his cheek.  Apparitions aren’t
supposed to feel that real.  It’s more of the psychosis.  “How are you feeling?” she asks.  

“I want to die.  Go away.”  There’s nothing left worth living for.  Perhaps if he shuts his eyes long enough, when
he opens them he’ll be dead too.

“Harvey is gone.  They got him out.  You’re going to be fine.”  Aeryn looks at something behind where he’s lying
on his side, and then sinks down lower so she is eye-to-eye at his level.  “They want you to lie absolutely still for
another arn, then it will all be over.  They’re finishing up right now.”

Dream or not dream?  Reality, fantasy, hallucination, delusion, or collusion?  It began this way the last several
times through the horror.  Always the same beginning, always the same end.  He stares into her eyes and feels
panic instead of love and security.  “Aeryn?”  

“What?”  

“Are you alive?”  It takes every bit of strength to ask the question.  It has to be forced out past the lump in his
throat and the aching sting behind his eyes.  

“Yes.  I’m very much alive, and so are you.”  She spends a few microts looking at some of the portions of their
surroundings that he can’t see.  “Do you remember where we are?”  

“No.”  All he remembers is blood and a voice.  

“You will.  They were very careful.  They’re using a combination of surgery, drugs, and telepathy.  They
absolutely guarantee that there won’t be any residual memory loss.”  She smiles at him and continues stroking
his cheek.  “He’s gone for good this time.”  

He’s warm, comfortable, calm, and there isn’t any pain.  The sibilant hush of machines is soothing.  He floats,
suspended in time, with Aeryn’s fingers on his cheek, and for the first time in a very long time, he’s happy.  

It’s all wrong.  Every single thing in his life since the first moment he’d gotten sucked through that wormhole has
hurt beyond description, and he knows in a split-microt that this isn’t the real part.  This is an imagined world
created by a psychotic episode.  “Oh god, no.”

“What’s the matter with him?”  D’Argo’s alarmed cry barely reaches him where he wallows in despair.  

“I don’t know.”  

He pleads for her to save him.  “Make it hurt.  If it’s real, Aeryn, then make it hurt.”  

He gets excuses from an imaginary wraith, the last small charity of kindness from a dead woman.  “We can’t,
John.  They have a neural block in place.  If they lift it before they’re done, the shock could kill you.”  

“Go away.  Go away and let me die.”  

One of Aeryn’s hands grips his with ferocious strength.  The strong grasp is every bit as pain-free as every
other sensation coursing through his body, convincing him that he is lost, and then she says something to who
ever else is in the room.  The pain smashes into him with the intensity of being hit by a rogue star.  He gasps,
lets out one small cry of protest, and lets the whirlwind of agony course through him.  It is good.  It is sharp and
real, and none of the blood-soaked moments had pain like this.

“You have to promise me something,” he grates out between strained breaths.  “You have to give me your
word.”  He can ask this of Aeryn because now he is positive she is alive.  

“Anything.”  

He’s beginning to go into shock.  Things are slipping away bit by bit, becoming remote and muted.  He fights it,
needing to be sure of something before he gives in and lets them put the neural block back in place.  “Have I …
ever …”  Talking takes energy.  Every bit of strength is going into not screaming.  It feels wonderful.  “Does
God ever talk to me, Aeryn?  Have I ever said that I hear the voice of God?”  

“No.  Sometimes you act like you think you’re God, but you’ve never said you listen to a deity.  You’re too
arrogant and stubborn to ever listen to a god.”  

She’s teasing him and being serious all in the same breath.  He loves her so much.  “You promise me.  If I ever
say that I’m hearing a single voice --”  He starts to slip away.  He hears them say that they want to put the block
back in place because the shock is fouling up their readings.  He hurries to finish.  “Not Harvey.  If I ever say I’m
hearing the voice of God, you shoot me right then and there.  Okay?”

“I promise.  It will never happen, but I promise,” Aeryn vows.  

He lets go then, and allows them to spill him into the darkness that holds the dark dreams and the sights that he
fears are premonitions, for once hoping that his sleep is wracked by nightmares.   


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