|Space For Rent
(First posted October 28, 2004)
Disclaimer: The characters and universe of Farscape never have and never will belong to me. And as much
as I wish they did, I’m glad they belong to Henson, et. al. because they’re the geniuses who have provided us
with so much fun, angst, and excitement.
Time Frame/Spoilers: Post-Peacekeeper Wars. Despite its short length, this story contains several HUGE
spoilers for the mini-series.
Beta-readers: Un-beta’d. Always a dangerous move, but sometimes I risk it.
Gestation: Fillers and additions aren't usually what I choose to write. But something about CrystalMoon's
story ‘Or Dance’ drew the interest of the Youses Muses Gang. As usual, when they stopped in they came fully
armed, waving pulse pistols about and threatening my life unless I wrote the story. Who could turn down such a
polite, considerate demand from John and Aeryn?
* * * * *
Aeryn Sun stood in the middle of the corridor, looking indecisively between the various directions she could
choose from: the route to her converted prison cell, the slightly longer route to John’s, and the ladder leading
upward toward Tier Five and the larger quarters they had elected to turn into their new home. Long ago
modified into a Peacekeeper officer’s residence, intended to be occupied by the Leviathan’s commanding
officer, the chamber on Tier Five had the advantage of being more than twice as large as a standard cell, with
a commensurately large bed. The drawback was that it was located far from the other cells, putting them an
irritating distance from the quarters occupied by their friends, and even further from the Center Chamber. The
benefit was that it gave them both space and privacy, and provided a much needed buffer between the baby’s
crying and the rest of the crew.
She gently bounced the screaming ‘Little D’, as John had begun regularly calling their son, humming a quiet
drone that normally calmed the infant, and tried to listen for some sign of John over the rising shriek of
unhappiness. In the end, since the baby was already awake and crying, she resorted to a more direct method
of locating her mate.
“CRICHTON!” Aeryn yelled into the apparently empty tier. “WHERE THE FRELL ARE YOU?”
“My place!” he yelled back.
She hurried in the appropriate direction, still trying to calm their crying child. “Come take your airborne assault
siren! He won’t calm down for me.”
John met her at the door, already reaching for the squawling baby before they were even in range for the
transfer. “Come here, little man. Come on, Buddy, stop trying to bust your mom’s eardrums.” He tucked
D’Argo Sun Crichton into the crook of his arm and resumed the gentle bouncing, talking quietly into the non-
stop flood of screams. “Hey there, sludge factory. I know Mommy already checked all the important parts
because she’s a good mom, and you’ve got repulsive, slimy goop all down your chin so I know you’re not
hungry, so this must be cuz you’re upset about being called an air raid siren. Isn’t it? You’re trying to let us
know you’ve been mortally wounded by the insult.”
He leaned closer, showing no sign that the bellows of distress coming from the tiny lungs might be hurting his
ears, and spoke just as softly as before. “But she’s right. You are an air raid siren, you know. You could alert
an entire Command Carrier of an impending attack. You’ve got Crichton lungs, and you’re using Sun quality
foul language here.”
“I don’t use foul language. It’s nothing he’s picked up from me,” Aeryn interjected, continuing the small joke.
She was leaning on his shoulder, watching and listening carefully, trying to learn how John managed to quiet
D’Argo’s inexplicable screaming whenever she could not.
John turned his head and brushed a quick kiss across the closest bit of her head he could reach. It happened
to land on an eyebrow this time. He waited for her to return the affectionate peck, and then turned his attention
back on their son. “It is so cussing, isn’t it, Little D?” John nodded his head repeatedly, a look of great
seriousness in place despite the lilting, jovial tone of his voice. Little D’s eyes widened, transfixed by the sight
of his father’s face bobbing up and down in front of him, and he stopped crying long enough to hiccup.
John continued the nonsense, speaking more easily as the wails died away. “We can’t translate it yet, but I can
tell you’re swearing at us. And for good reason. Dad won’t let you borrow the car. Mom makes you clean your
room. We won’t let you have a pet because of what the nasty Vorc did to your mommy’s leg. You’re not
allowed to watch television until your homework is done. Life is cruel and unfair for such a small guy, isn’t it?”
John lowered his head and blew a long, sloppy raspberry into the questing little hands. He got a tiny thumb up
one nostril for his efforts, accompanied by a messy, happy gurgle from the thumb’s owner.
He straightened up, rubbing his nose with his free hand and smiled at Aeryn. “He’s a Crichton. All you have to
do to make him happy is tell him he’s right.”
“And what if he isn’t right?” she asked, retrieving the now cheerfully babbling bundle.
“Not a problem. We know we’re idiots. We just don’t like being reminded of it. Lie to us.”
Aeryn tried it out on Little D. Smiling as wide as possible and looking straight into his eyes, she said, “Daddy is
smart and handsome, and he comes up with great plans.” Her effort drew a shriek of laughter from her son and
a grumpy snort from John.
“Traitor,” he said, leaning over to address the baby. “The guys are supposed to stick together or else Mommy
will kick our butts.”
Crisis resolved for the time being, Aeryn looked around at the mostly empty cell. “Do you need help moving
“No, almost done. If I need a hand with anything big, I’ll ask …” He stopped, looking stricken. After several
microts, he went on, speaking more quietly and with less energy. “I guess maybe I can get everything myself.
I’ll let you know if I can’t move something.”
Aeryn leaned into him with one shoulder. “I do it, too. I haven’t gotten used him being gone either.”
They sighed together, sharing the loss, and John put his arms around his family.
Aeryn let out an uncomfortable little laugh, trying and failing to sound cheerful. “I walked all the way from the
Den to his quarters yesterday because I had a question about modifying some Scarran energy packs to be
used in the pulse rifles. I didn’t remember until I walked into his chamber.” She let out a long, shaking breath.
“I miss him.”
John rested his cheek against the top of her head. “I know. Same here. But,” he straightened up, “we got a
new pain in the ass to think about. And he yells even louder than Big D ever could. I just hope to hell when he
grows up he doesn’t decide to wear dreadlocks because they look like tanktas.”
“Dred … locks,” Aeryn repeated, trying out the new word.
“Long, ugly hair,” John translated for her.
She nodded, ignoring the remainder of his comment comparing hair to tanktas, and gestured to his cell with her
chin. “So what were you doing in here? Thinking about getting a divorce?”
John ignored the jibe. “Sorting out the useless crap I’ve picked up along the way.” He gestured toward a small
heap of objects located in the middle of the floor of the almost deserted cell. “Discards over there, stuff to be
moved near the door, undecided on the bed.”
Aeryn wandered over to the bed to see what sort of things had him undecided, hoping she might find one or
two items there that she had always found annoying and be able to flip them into the discards heap without
John noticing. She received one of the most severe emotional shocks she had gotten in a long time, save the
moment when she watched John collapse out of the wormhole mechanism that still stood on Command.
Lying amidst scattered articles of clothing, some chunks of unidentifiable circuitry, and the detritus of more than
four cycles living aboard Moya, was one of John’s notebooks. It was the one that held page upon page of
equations and calculations, its pages annotated with smears of his blood. This was the volume he had waved
wildly around the cell and shoved in her face no more than eight solar days earlier, his anguished arguments
flooding over her as slickly unpleasant as the blood that had streamed down the side of his face.
“Here.” As much as she would have liked to toss it into the pile on the floor, she held it out to him instead. “It’s
in the wrong spot.”
John reached out for it, drew back, and then reluctantly stretched the extra distance and took it out of her
hand. He thumbed through it, stopping often, and then finally flipped it toward the heap on the floor.
“But,” Aeryn began.
An oversized shrug from John stopped her objection. He gestured out to the sides with both hands. “No hablo
la lengua wormhole más.”
“I don’t speak the language anymore. I can’t understand any of it, Aeryn.”
John crossed to where the notebook lay facedown on the floor, its pages splayed and crumpled against the
Leviathan deck plates. He picked it up, ruffled through to a particular spot, and held it out so she could see the
contents. The pages were filled with symbols and equations. The majority flowed from top to bottom and side
to side in orderly ranks and rows. But then there were the additions, written in cramped, erratic scrawls, tucked
into every bit of empty space on the parchment. The notations burrowed into the base formulas, insinuated
themselves into the page and the mathematical theories presented there as completely as the knowledge had
burrowed into John’s brain and his life.
“But you wrote this,” she said, confused by his brief explanation.
“I know I wrote it. I remember writing it, and I remember knowing exactly what it all meant. It was clear, and it
made sense, and I knew exactly what to do with it.” Some of the manic behavior she had so often seen when
he was enraptured by wormholes made an encore appearance. John thumbed through the pages, stabbing at
equally mysterious equations with a shaking finger. “And this! And this, and this,” he said, starting to shout.
“Ssshhhh,” Aeryn hissed, nodding toward the child lying quietly in her arms.
He nodded and continued in a whisper, no less animated for the lower volume. “It made sense. And it feels like
it is right … there!” John grabbed at air, then turned his hand over and opened it. It was empty. “But it’s not
there. It’s gone, Aeryn. I know what most of the symbols mean, and if I spent the rest of my life doing nothing
but studying what’s written here, I might be able to figure out what they mean … but I have better things to do
than cover every square dench of Moya’s walls with equations.” He stepped close and kissed her, using the
caress to illustrate what he was talking about.
“This,” he waved the journal about, “is useless now.” He tossed it into the discard pile and wandered on around
the periphery of his cell, sorting the last few possessions into the three categories.
Receiving a tiny thump against her ribs, Aeryn checked on Little D. The erratically waving fist that had hit her
was nothing more than the clenched result of an enormous yawn. She tucked baby and lolling arm inside the
more permanent, padded sling they had fashioned to carry him, and watched with amusement as he went from
waking to sleeping in a matter of microts. The fast transitions from bawling and fussy to happy and sleeping
continued to amuse her, although the reverse retained the power to unnerve her. When she looked up, John
was standing next to her, watching her and little D’Argo. He smiled broadly, every bit as ecstatic over his family
and accepting of her shortcomings as a mother as he had been from the moment she had told him she had
released the stasis.
“You were assigned to baby patrol last night,” he said, referring to their method of alternating the burden of
disturbed sleep. “Why don’t you head up to our new mansion and take a nap while Junior is flaked out.”
“You didn’t get any sleep at all the night before,” she said. “Why don’t you come with us?”
John nodded and sighed, suddenly looking worn, as though he had been holding himself together by willpower
alone for a very long time. “Not such a bad idea.”
“What’s the matter?” When she received a headshake for an answer, she grabbed his arm, bringing him to a
stop. “What is the matter?” she asked again, speaking slowly and deliberately. “Tell me.”
“Empty spaces. Here, here, and here.” He gestured around his cell, pointed at his head, and then waved a
hand toward the corridor in the direction of D’Argo’s as yet undisturbed quarters. No one aboard, not even the
normally avaricious Rygel, had been able to summon the willpower to clean them out yet. “It’s been a rotten few
cycles, Aeryn, but I feel like I’m leaving a lot of good stuff behind that was supposed to come along with us when
we moved forward. The empty spaces are talking to me today, and I don’t like what they’re saying.”
Aeryn slid out from under the sling and its sleeping cargo, keeping it still while her body did all the moving.
Without being asked, John ducked down and let her loop it over his shoulder. The transfer was completed
without disturbing the sling's quietly resting inhabitant.
“Then listen to something else. Listen to the sound of your son breathing, and listen to my voice, and listen to
this,” she placed John’s free hand against the center of her chest, “because it has a few things to say about
how much I love you.”
John smiled at her, albeit a little weakly, and put his arm around her shoulders. “How long does it take for the
empty gaps to go away, Aeryn? How long does it take for the ache to stop and to get to the point where you
don’t spend your entire day thinking about not thinking about it?”
“When you find something better with which to fill it up.”
That seemed to satisfy him. “I’ve got that right here,” he said, giving her a small sideways hug. He brightened,
looking around the stripped chamber with less remorse. “God knows I should be used to empty spots inside my
head by now. I’ve done nothing but spend the last four cycles ricocheting from clueless to ignorant to baffled to
confused. This isn’t all that different. The rest I can cope with as long as I have the two of you.” He started
toward the door. “You coming? Nap-nap time?”
“Go ahead. You’ve got The Lump,” she said, gesturing toward the sling. “I’ll bring a few more of your things
Aeryn waited beside the ‘To-Be-Moved’ stack near the door until she heard him climbing the ladder toward Tier
Five. Only then, when she could no longer hear his boots ringing on the oval-holed ladder, did she move
slowly to the discard pile where she spent several dozen microts staring at the notebook perched precariously
on the pinnacle of trash. Finally, hesitantly, she picked it up, tucked it inside a container full of items John had
brought back from Earth but rarely went looking for, and with one arm devoted to carrying his possessions,
followed him toward their new home.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *