Counterfeit
(First posted September 13, 2012)
Rating:  PG-13 for a very small amount of sexual innuendo.
Spoilers/Time Frame:  General non-specific Farscape, set some time after PK Wars for the simple reason
that John and Aeryn are married.
Disclaimer:  The characters and universe of Farscape are the property of the Henson Co.  I have not made
any profit off this tale, and I am giving the characters back the way I found them.
Test Drivers:  I am posting this without first running it past a test driver.  All oversights, errors, and typos are
entirely mine.  

Starburst Challenge 65 (hosted by SlapmasterEd):  Clichés.  Old saws. Proverbs. Wise old sayings. Morals
to the story. Sayings so hackneyed they've become a punchline. I want you to use one. Pick your favorite (or
better yet, your least favorite) and use it for inspiration.

Genesis:  Sometimes the most bizarre story possible is the result of taking a comment or sentence altogether
too literally.  That’s all I’m going to say.

I hope you enjoy it.  

*  *  *  *  *

Aeryn had caught him looking.  

John Crichton wrenched his gaze away from the woman sitting near the corner of the bar and let it drift around
the room, stopping to examine the décor, the six-armed bartender, and several other patrons as though that
was what he had been doing all along.  Feigning disinterested curiosity was not easy.  A majority of his concen-
tration was focused on the impending explosion he was certain was percolating several inches away from his
right shoulder.  He did not have to turn his head to confirm that she had noticed his enthralled stare.  Aeryn
had gone completely still.  It was as though she had disappeared.

No matter where they were, no matter what they were doing, Aeryn was normally a complex amalgam of small
body movements and permanent vigilance; she was a never-ending expenditure of energy that he could sense
whenever she was nearby.  That aura of energy had become a reassuring constant in his life, similar to the
thrum of a generator that was vital to his existence or the rhythmic grumbles of Moya’s internal systems.  As
long as it was there, he knew that all was well and he was not in danger of dying.  When it disappeared, he
knew his life was at risk.  

The only time Aeryn went entirely still was when he did something that hurt her feelings, which in Aeryn’s case
was often the same as making her angry.  When that happened, she often recoiled both physically and
emotionally, like an armadillo curling into its protective plating.  The smooth flow of life energy and alertness
came to a stop as abruptly as if someone had flipped a switch.  And once that happened, he could seldom
predict whether she would eventually relax and uncurl … or explode, flinging damaging shrapnel in all directions.

John devoted several microts to studying a collection of small shiny objects arranged on the wall that might
have been a form of alien artwork, still working hard to make it look as though he had been surveying the
interior of the building, then cautiously turned his head to the right to check on Aeryn’s reaction.  The level of
irritation was always in direct proportion to the attractiveness of the woman who had caught his attention.  
Based on that standard, he was in very big trouble.  The woman sitting five motras to his left was nothing short
of gorgeous.

He took in a slow breath, braced himself, and turned his head the small additional distance necessary to face
Aeryn.  

She was smiling.  John’s stomach knotted for a moment then squirmed; a moment later, a wave of queasiness
flooded outward from the center of his body.  He was not sure what the smile meant, but his bowels were
already convinced that the best choice was to drop all pretense of dignity and run.  He would have been
happier if Aeryn had been angry.  The smile was downright unsettling.  

Before he could figure out how to start a conversation, Aeryn launched right in.  “She is very pretty.”

This was both good and bad.  Good because for once he knew the correct answer; bad because Aeryn
continued to smile, possibly more brightly than before.  This had never happened.  It could not mean anything
good for him.  

“Who are you talking about?” he said.  

One dark eyebrow quirked upward and stayed there.  If it had gone back down, it would have signaled surprise
or uncertainty; it would have meant that he had a ghost of a chance of convincing her that he had not been
staring at another woman.  By staying up, the eyebrow told him that he had already been tried, found guilty,
convicted, and sentenced.  It invited him to end the anguish by offering a confession.  

He glanced briefly toward the other woman, tried for a nonchalant shrug, and said, “Not my style.  I’m not into
blondes.  I prefer a certain brunette.”  

Aeryn leaned forward, looking past him toward the blonde.  “She is extremely attractive,” she said.  “I cannot
imagine that the color of her hair would make a difference.”  

John debated whether to look or keep his eyes fixed on Aeryn.  Normally, the right choice in this type of
situation was to behave as though every other living creature in the universe was male and that Aeryn was the
only female left.  This was not a normal situation, however.  The smile was still firmly in place, and did not seem
strained or insincere.  Something was amusing her.  He watched her for several more microts, hoping for a clue
how to respond, then slowly turned his head to look at the woman.  

It was a mistake.  She was even more stunning than she had appeared at first glance.  When he had initially
spotted her, she had been more buxom than he normally preferred, more voluptuous in a wide-hipped way that
he had once liked but that no longer excited him.  On second examination, she was less curvaceous, leaner,
tending toward slender rather than well-padded.  Her face had more firmness and character than he remem-
bered, better defined cheekbones, and her eyes had begun to remind him of Lauren Bacall.  In fact, the longer
he stared at her, the more beautiful she seemed to become, as though she was transforming into a different
person right before his eyes.  He blinked several times then rubbed his eyes with a thumb and forefinger.  
When he looked up again, the woman looking back at him was the most striking, elegant female he had ever
encountered.  He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and told himself silently but very firmly that he
preferred Aeryn.  

His body had other ideas.  The familiar surge of warmth and energy in his groin gave him a split microt’s
advance warning that a marital catastrophe was about to occur.  He closed his eyes and imagined -- as vividly
and realistically as possible -- Aeryn thrusting the muzzle of her pulse pistol into his crotch and pulling the
trigger.  Sexual interest faded at a speed that verged on painful.  He let out what he hoped was a silent sigh of
relief, and turned to face his wife.     

“What’s going on?” he said.  “What is she?”  

The smile changed.  It shifted from amusement to something laden with an intricately intertwined collection of
emotions that made him go weak at the knees for the second time in the space of a few microts.  There was
love, respect, admiration, and half a dozen other silent and unidentifiable messages contained in that smile,
none of which held any anger.  

“Not many men could do that,” she said, this time so quietly that no one else could hear.  

Aeryn’s hand rested on his knee for a moment before tracing a feathery light touch up the inside of his thigh.  It
took him a moment to remember what they were talking about.  “Do what?”

“Look away from her.”  

The enigmatic smile began to make more sense.  Aeryn had known what was occurring from the start.  “Then
she is doing something to me.”  

“Not exactly,” Aeryn said.  “You are doing something to her.  She adapts.”

The fragments of information assembled into a coherent whole.  “She adapts to become exactly what I would
find most desirable.”

Aeryn inclined her head once, agreeing.  

“Then she ought to look like you,” he said.  

The smile of amusement was back.  “Nice try.”  

“I’m serious,” he said.  “If I stared at her long enough, she would become you.  She is already headed in that
direction.”  

Aeryn slid off her seat, brushed a fast kiss across his cheek as she moved past him, and headed toward the
woman who had transformed into a thorough merging of Aeryn and Lauren Bacall -- elegant, intelligent,
strong-willed, and uniquely attractive.  

“Where are you going?” he called after Aeryn.  

She raised one hand, telling him to wait.  Six long strides later she reached the other female, grabbed her by
the hair with one hand, kicked her feet out from under her, and threw her forcefully to the floor.  

“Aeryn, what the frell are you doing?”  John yelled.  He pushed his drink to one side and went after her.  

Before he could take two steps, Aeryn had flipped the woman onto her stomach.  She put one foot on the small
of her back, grabbed her by the back of the neck with both hands, and yanked hard.  John braced himself for
an ear-splitting scream of pain.  What he heard instead was a repulsive sounding combination that sounded
like someone had stepped in knee deep mud and torn their pants at the same time, a wetly squelching ripping
noise.  Aeryn shifted her grip down the woman’s back, moved her foot to her buttocks, and pulled again.  
Slurping, dripping, tearing … slithering.  The nauseating sequence ended with a sloppy thump.  Something
slipped out of the center of the woman’s body and fell to the floor.

John came to a stumbling, horrified stop.  “What the frell is that?”

Aeryn took a step back.  She held what looked like an empty sack, except that it had blonde hair at one end.  
“Selgorgian,” she said.  

“Slug.”  Producing the syllable was a challenge.  His voice was thick and guttural, clogged by a strong urge to
vomit.  “Revolting, slimy, disgusting looking slug.”  The creature was slithering toward the door, leaving an
equally revolting track in its wake.  “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Aeryn tossed the skin to one side.  Several of the bar’s patrons shied away from it, glared at her for several
microts, and then went back to their drinks.  

“Why does this not bother them?” John said.  

“The selgorgs are native to this planet,” Aeryn explained, coming to a stop next to him.  “They molt periodically
as they grow, so anyone who lives here gets used to finding the skins lying around.”  

“What was it after?  Did it want to” -- he paused for several microts, searching for the best term -- “mate with
me?”    

“Probably.”  Aeryn slid her arm through his, and nudged him into motion, headed for the door.  

“Please tell me I’m not genetically compatible with that thing.”  The idea that he might be able to create offspring
with the creature was enough to eradicate his interest in sex for the next several cycles.  

“Protein,” she said.  

“Protein!  Do you mean like meat?  It would have eaten me?”  

“No, I mean this type of protein.”  She gave him a quick pat against the front of his pants.  

John looked down at his fly, trying to decipher the wordless portion of the explanation.  He was still envisioning
sharp teeth taking chunks out of his body, so it took several microts for her meaning to break through.  “Oh!  
That kind of protein.” he said when the pat suddenly made sense.  “Fructose, amino acids, that type of stuff.”  

“That type of stuff,” she echoed, mimicking his tone of voice.  “It is their favorite food source.”  

John shuddered and then stumbled as they went out the door together.  Too much of his attention was focused
on what might have happened if Aeryn had not been with him.  He was not paying attention to where his feet
were taking him.  “That does it.  I’m never leaving Moya again. There are too many weird, freaky species out
here.  Every time I think I have finally learned enough to cope with a quick trip to a planet, someone or
something goes out of its way to prove me wrong.”  

They slowed together to let a stream of vehicles pass by, then jogged across the street, heading toward the
landing field where they had left the transport pod.  “Does this mean you’ve learned something today?” Aeryn
asked once they had slowed to a walk.

“Yes.  Definitely.”  It was payback time.  He knew she wanted him to say more.  Aeryn was waiting for him to
explain, and under most circumstances getting him to shut up would have been the challenge.  This was the
perfect opportunity for revenge, however; retribution for the enigmatic smile and her unhelpful explanation
about the selgorgian’s preferred diet.  

“What lesson did you learn?” Aeryn asked after nearly two hundred microts of silence.  She sounded
simultaneously irritated and yet tolerant, as though she was exasperated by what he was doing and at the same
time understood why he was doing it and was not taking it to heart.   

“Never judge a slug by its cover?” he said, ending on a deliberate upswing, trying for a joke.  

It was always difficult to tell with Aeryn, but he thought she might have come close to laughing.  Either that or
she needed to sneeze.  “Wrong,” she said.  

“Beauty is only skin deep,” he said, trying again.  

Aeryn expression suggested that she was running out of patience and he was fast running out of chances.

“That if I’m going to stare at a woman and get all hot and bothered by how good she looks, I had better make
sure I’m looking at you.”  

Aeryn slid her arm around his waist, pulled him tight against her, and nodded once.  He had finally told her what
she had been waiting to hear.  



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