|Measure Of Devotion
( First section posted on September 23, 2004)
Greetings all you wonderful Scapers!
A few stray thoughts before we get underway. (This site is called “Crash Debris” after all. It is filled with various
mental drivelings from my often-skewed imagination, so I might as well let that slop over into the introduction to
To begin with, I’d like to explain that I dreamed up this whopper of a story waaaaaaaaaaay back in the spring of
2002. I mention this because the original concept was conceived before David Kemper and his crew of warped
mentalities (I’m referring to the show’s writers) came up with the concept of “unrealized realities”, and I’ve had to
do a little finagling to compensate for that unexpected development.
At that time, my biggest problem was finding a timeframe in which to set the story. We were watching the first
half of Season 4, and I wanted that butt-kickin’ Butch-and-Sundance feel to it, not a lot of rip-your-heart-out
angst. (If you’re wandering around looking for ANGST, give “Whispers” a try … it’s got a full dose.) So I jotted
down the outline and a few ideas for some of the scenes, and set “Measure Of Devotion” off to the side until we
could see where canon was going to take us. Then came the cancellation, the campaign, real life took over in
a big way, and because of all that I was never certain that a story of this length would ever get finished -- so it
just sat and sat and sat. Since you are reading this, I think it’s safe to say that I decided it was worth the effort
and yanked it out of cold storage.
If this were put into book form, it would be a trilogy. That’s the way the Youses Muses Gang described it when
they originally stopped in and told me the tale. So even though I’m going to just keep numbering the chapter
sequentially, you may eventually notice three fairly distinct sections … or then again, maybe you won’t.
Also, without giving too much away, there are going to be some scenes involving Harvey that may (or may not)
resemble ‘Into The Lion’s Den’. I would like to state for the record that I had already plotted those out before
those episodes ever aired. (I don’t have any proof. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.) I went so
far as to consider changing them because of the similarity, but in the end I decided to leave them the way the
Youses Muses Gang laid them out. I’d like to claim that I was channeling David Kemper that day. No such
luck. If anyone is familiar with the book “Mila 18” by Leon Uris, which revolves around the Jewish Resistance in
the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII, that was my source and inspiration.
One more note and then I’ll shut up and get on with the story. The title “Measure Of Devotion” comes from the
Gettysburg Address. To save you from looking it up, the pertinent section will eventually appear at the end of
the last chapter of the story … or you can find it here.
Okay, enough of my blathering. Here we go.
Hope you enjoy it,
Purveyor of Hallucinations
Measure Of Devotion
* * * * *
Rating: PG-13: Involves some violence and scenes of torture (more implied than explicit), the occasional bout
of multi-lingual cussin’, and hopefully enough hugging and kissing to keep all the 'shippers beaming with
Disclaimer: Farscape and all related characters are the creation of, and are owned by, the Henson
Company. The producers, cast, and crew are all enormously talented, imaginative, and dedicated people who
I hope will understand that I have no intention of infringing on their ownership or making any profit from their
labors. Thank you all for your extraordinary vision.
Spoilers/Time Frame: This story occurs in between Fetal Attraction and Hot To Katratzi, and contains
massive spoilers for everything up to that point. I’m playing a little loose and easy with the unknown length of
time between Aeryn’s rescue and the crew’s arrival on Katratzi. Hopefully I’ve covered all the bases well
enough that you won’t have a problem with it.
Beta-readers: PKLibrarian. She is always there, waiting to read the latest and willing to tell me when a story
has gone astray. She rocks. (Additional acknowledgements will be added as the story proceeds.)
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
John Crichton banged into yet another alien critter. The startled creature let out a gargling growl, shoved him
to one side, and continued its way along the crowded thoroughfare. Crichton spent several seconds watching
it skitter off through the crowd then turned and elbowed his way deeper into the throng. From its lack of
reaction, he figured there was a good possibility that the black-skinned, bug-like being had not understood the
intent behind his mumbled “Pardon me”, and that conclusion was based on the assumption that it had the
translator things in its head in the first place.
“Remember to ask the blue chick whether all the critters on this side of the universe have the microbe
doodads,” he said into his recorder. There was too much to remember and assimilate here. His list of mental
notes to himself had exceeded available cranial storage space in a matter of hours, and he had begun relying
on the pocket recorder instead. Another reminder was added to the fast-growing reel of tape. “Arns. It’s arns
here, not hours.”
Twenty feet ahead of him there was a flash of khaki. Crichton squirmed his way between a pair of eight-foot
tall blue-furred creatures, swerved around something that looked repulsively akin to a gargantuan leech, took
several long steps, and was within arm’s length of the IASA uniform. He snared his wife around the waist from
behind and hugged her. Alex jumped and let out quick screech, drawing the attention of vendors and
She turned halfway around inside his embrace, deliberately elbowing him in the ribs in the process. “You jerk!
It’s too bizarre here to be doing that to me. I thought one of those --” She paused, searching for an
appropriate word to describe the alien species swarming around them.
“Critters,” John prompted. He pulled Alex close to his chest and leaned his chin on her shoulder.
“I thought one of those beings had grabbed me. Can you believe this, John? We are actually on another
planet!” They moved toward the next open air shop as one, waddling slightly as a result of John’s ongoing
hug. “Other life forms,” she said, awestruck by the variety of beings flooding around them.
“Sentient lifeforms. Lots and lots of weird, freaky, technicolor lifeforms. We’re on a shopping trip in a bizarre
“Funny.” Alex slapped his hand lightly and pulled out of his embrace. “John, do you realize how important it
would be to bring something as simple as the translator microbes back to Earth? Not just for the language
translation portion. What if we could bio-engineer new microbes for a variety of functions? We could be
looking at instantaneous learning. Think of the impact on technical fields. The possibilities are endless.
Imagine being able to download medical knowledge with a single injection.”
“That is exactly why you were on board, babe. I don’t mean because we thought we’d ever wind up on the far
side of the universe, but for your medical expertise. I see Mighty Morphin’ Power Microbes and you see the
possibilities for human advancement.” John lingered at what he guessed was a food stall. Everything on
display looked universally unappetizing. He sniffed cautiously at the least revolting of the selections, and then
turned away, gagging at the stench, and spent some time wondering if they could exist for the rest of their lives
on nothing but the tasteless foodcubes they had been given aboard the leviathan. Alex continued to drift along
the stalls, examining the wares with rapt interest.
“Don’t go too far,” he called after her. There was a flickering, truncated movement that he recognized as Alex’s
in-public shorthand for blowing him a kiss, and then she moved further into the crowd.
Crichton heard the grumble of the luxan and the higher pitched tones of the delvian coming toward him long
before he could see them. It was too early to tell if any of the leviathan’s small complement could be trusted,
but one thing was certain: his and Alex’s survival depended on their questionable charity. They would not
survive for long without a few allies who were willing to teach them how things worked in this universe. Glancing
one more time to make sure his wife had not moved too far along the market stalls, he turned and went to meet
“Durgo and Pah-oo Zan.” He repeated the awkward syllables several times, resisting the urge to bastardize the
names into a more familiar form. He had nearly given into the desire several arns earlier, only to receive a
vigorous elbow in the ribs and a furious glare from Alex. That had stopped him cold, as it always did.
“We must break orbit,” D’Argo said as soon as they were within range. “There is a Peacekeeper Command
Carrier arriving.” Edict delivered, the luxan turned and left without another word. Zhaan lingered.
“Command Carrier is big and bad, I take it?” John asked. “The Imperial Starcruiser of this end of the universe?
“Peacekeepers,” Zhaan said, summarizing the bad news. “They will not allow us to escape. If Moya remains in
orbit around this planet when they arrive, our deaths are assured.”
Crichton expended four seconds weighing his options. They had a choice of taking refuge with a bunch of
escaped prisoners, or seeking asylum within what he was quickly beginning to believe was an autocratic military
regime. He made his decision. “Alex went that way, I have to find her. We’ll catch up.”
“All right, Crichton, but you’ll have to hurry. We can’t wait for you. If you aren’t at the transport pod in two
hundred microts, we’ll be forced to leave without you.” She ducked her head in silent apology.
“We’ll be there! She’s right over there.” He pointed toward where he had last seen his wife, and started in that
direction before he finished talking.
“Be quick. We will not wait.” Pulling her wrap more securely around her head, Zhaan disappeared into the
Just when he needed to move fastest, the crowd thickened, closing in around him and slowing his progress to a
nightmarish struggle. Crichton abandoned finesse and manners. Shoving bodies aside without regard for
shape, size, or number of limbs, he forced his way through the mob. There was no sign of his wife, no glimpse
of the khaki uniform. “Alex!” he yelled. Half his allotted time was gone and he had not found her yet. He
pushed harder, rudely elbowing several critters aside. “ALEX!!”
There was no answering shout.
Two seconds later, John Crichton’s life took the sort of turn for the worse that, if applied to a more normal event
on Earth, transformed otherwise mundane moments into Stephen-King-quality tales of horror. In his current
surroundings, already struggling to cope with what had happened to him over the preceding several hours, it
turned a waking nightmare into the sort of disaster that no film director would ever dare to put on the screen.
Disbelief, shock, anger, and half a dozen other emotions entwined into a sick-making lump in his stomach.
The downhill slide to disaster started with a familiar whining roar: the only sound on this planet other than
Alex’s voice that he had a prayer of recognizing. It rushed overhead, the source of the noise obscured in the
dark, and faded out within a matter of seconds. To Crichton it meant that the transport pod had left right when
the blue chick had said it would. The fugitives had left without them. He and Alex were stranded on this alien
world, and the module, their only hope of ever getting back to Earth, was on board the huge space ship, which
would undoubtedly be headed for parts even more unknown within a matter of seconds.
“Shit!” The syllable did not begin to describe his frustration, and it was far too short to vent any of his growing
anger. “Damn it all to hell!”
After that, everything went from bad to worse in a rush. The solid mass of bodies that had closed in around him
a few moments earlier now began to move in the opposite direction he wanted to travel. Crichton elbowed and
shoved his way through the tide of bodies without regard for the injuries he might be inflicting. Someone or
something took a swing at him in response to his aggressive tactics. He grabbed an arm that had more than
one elbow joint, and flung the creature into the crowd ahead of him in an attempt to clear a path. He surged
forward no more than four feet.
“Get out of my way, you freaky bastards! ALEX!! Where the hell are you?” he yelled.
“JOHN!” Her call tightened the muscles in his shoulders with an emotion he could not label. It felt as though all
the worst moments of his life had been combined into a single, reason-robbing ache that if left untended long
enough held the promise of suicidal depression. He shook himself, trying to flick away the peculiar sensation,
and surged forward another two feet. Alex’s cry had not been a shout to let him know where she was, and it
had not been a scream of fear; it had been a mournful cry dominated by loss. If he were lying on the ground
dying from a fatal injury, he would expect her last words to him to be filled with that sort of regret. But he was
unharmed and he was not in danger, which left a single, horrid possibility. With no clue other than that single
yelled syllable from Alex, he was certain that something catastrophic was about to happen to her.
Crichton rammed into the bodies in front of him like a linebacker, refusing to let their combined mass stop his
forward momentum. Several of the bodies gave way before his attack, opening up a small gap. He wedged a
shoulder into the opening and drove hard, lifting one alien clean off its feet with the force of the impact. There
was an unpleasant twang in the back of his thigh, testimony of a torn muscle. He ignored it and continued to
fight his way forward, profanity and Alex’s name pouring out of him in time with his efforts.
He was three feet and three seconds too late.
Alex screamed. It was cut off mid-breath by an unfamiliar booming crack. Crichton bellowed out her name,
praying for some sort of reply from Alex, even if only an agonized whimper, and elbowed his way through the
last of the crowd. The bodies gave way and he tumbled face-first into an open area.
All the fears of the last few seconds were confirmed. Alex was face down on the ground, her hand grasped
around her personal recorder, thumb still depressing the record button. Crichton scrambled forward on all
fours, hoping, praying for a miracle of survival. Drawing closer, he had to stop, on the verge of puking. Where
Alexandra’s back had been, there was now a smoking hole, charred bone, bits of blasted tissue and spine
showing, pieces of her uniform still smoldering. There wasn’t a chance in the universe that she was still alive.
“NO!! No, no, no, no!!! Oh, God! No!” It was the only word he seemed able to find as he knelt beside her
body. John’s hands hovered just short of her hair, her cheek, the hand holding the recorder, momentarily
incapable of crossing the short distance to touch the still warm flesh one last time. The recorder continued to
whirr in the sudden silence, faithfully recording the sounds of the worst moment of his life. After two false starts,
Crichton placed his hand over Alex’s still warm but motionless one, and pressed the ‘Stop’ button. He turned
her hand over and looked at the wedding ring on her finger. It glowed eerily in the half-light of the planet’s
dwarf sun, as though the spirit of its owner now resided in the gold band. Then someone behind him moved,
blocking out the light, and the phantom energy faded away, leaving him crouched over Alex’s dead body staring
at nothing more than a metal band around her finger.
“Oh, Alex. No,” he cried quietly.
His disbelief and grief were cut short.
“John Crichton, you murdered my brother.” Bialar Crais stepped from behind the line of Peacekeeper soldiers
and sneered down at where Crichton hovered over his lifeless wife. “Now you know the loss I experienced when
you attacked him in that white death pod of yours. It will be the last emotion you feel.” He motioned to the
soldiers and they moved forward as a single unit, weapons at the ready.
Abruptly, Crichton knew this was wrong, all wrong. It had not happened this way.
Alexandra had not been here. Crais had not done this. There had not been any shots fired in the marketplace
that day. He looked at the crowd surging around the clear space, examining the avoided looks and curious
stares for some clue that would tell him what was going on. Thought was short-circuited by anger before he
could put together a theory. Rage swirled from belly to chest like an uncoiling dragon, flowed into his brain,
and removed every vestige of rational thought. The only reality left to him was that Alex never would have been
here if it had not been for him, and therefore it was his fault she was dead. It had been his dream, his theory,
his project, his experiment, his fault. His self-control snapped.
“You fucking bastard!”
Crais was unreachable, safely positioned behind the shoulder-to-shoulder row of armor-clad troopers. Crichton
settled for launching himself at the nearest soldier, a dark-haired woman with impassive grayish-blue eyes who
cradled her rifle as though it was part of her body. Her gaze did not even flicker as he rushed her; she stood
her ground without faltering.
Crais’ command came before Crichton managed to cross even half the distance to that intended target for his
“NO!” Crichton spun away from the searing burn that would come from being struck squarely by pulse weapon
fire, ricocheted off something soft and yielding, and hit the floor with a breath-stopping impact. In a panicked
flurry of movement, he rolled over twice and scrambled to his knees. Both hands scrabbled about his waist and
thighs for Winona while he searched for the source of the threat to his life. He came up with nothing more than
a fistful of the loose shorts he wore for sleeping.
“John!” The summons was quiet, spoken at no more than half-volume, but no less fierce for its soft delivery.
Crichton sat back on his heels and devoted several microts to getting his breathing restarted. Once that was
accomplished, he raised his head and looked into the same dark eyes that had filled the last moments of his
dream. Aeryn was propped up on one elbow, staring down at him from her spot on the bed. She started to sit
up. He wanted to stop her. The best he could manage was a wheezed, “Stay.” He waved her back and then
held up an index finger, asking her to give him a few microts to recover.
It had been less than two solar days since he had rescued Aeryn from the Kalish-run outpost, carried her back
to Moya, and laid her drugged and abused body on the bed in her own quarters. She was healing rapidly, far
quicker than any human would have recovered. The four vicious puncture wounds were already closed --
thanks to what may have been the only non-toxic potion Noranti had ever concocted in her entire life -- and the
last of the drugs had cleared her system. Aeryn was clean, dressed in her own clothes, and looked no worse
than if they had been through one of their average, typically disastrous days. Despite her remarkable progress
however, she spent her waking arns hovering on the verge of exhaustion, and all but the smallest movements
summoned a quiet exhalation of pain.
His next attempt at speech was closer to normal. “I’ll be okay in a microt. Lie down.”
“Was it the clone again?”
Clambering to his feet, John shook his head. “Nightmare. Just a very weird-ass, run-of-the-mill nightmare.” He
paused at the side of the bed. Aeryn was wearing her patented, hair-trigger ‘I hate not being able to take care
of myself’ look.
“What do you need?” he asked.
“Waste alcove.” She flipped the thermal sheet aside and accepted his help getting to her feet.
“Take it slow. Let me --”
Aeryn’s fingers sank into his shoulder deeply enough that he was sure it would leave bruises, she let out
another of the all too frequent airy, over-controlled breaths, and hauled herself up straight. Her slow sigh of
pain was drowned out by his breathy growl of exasperation.
“Damn it, Aeryn, you need to give those muscles time to heal.”
“Shut up. What they need is to move. I’m stiff, that’s all.”
“You were skewered like a hunk of beef in a George Foreman rotisserie oven. Even the great and powerful
Aeryn Sun needs more than a single day to heal after that sort of thing.” Aside from the initial wild journey back
to Moya and the first trip from her bed to the waste facilities, every one of his attempts to pick her up and carry
her had been firmly rebuffed. His most aggressive attempt to force her into letting him help had earned him a
vigorous elbow in his ribs. After that, he had given up -- settling for a lot of protective hovering instead, just in
case Aeryn’s body decided it was more debilitated than she thought.
“I can do this myself,” Aeryn said through clenched teeth. “You’re hovering worse than a pair of trelkez parents
fussing over a new hatchling. If you keep this up, you are going to drive me insane.”
Ignoring her protest, Crichton remained beside her, one hand resting lightly on the small of her back, for the
duration of the short journey to the cell’s waste alcove.
Aeryn came to a stop at the entrance to the small, secluded area of the cell. “You are not coming in. I can
handle the rest without your help.”
“I know you can. I was hoping to get a look at you without your pants on.”
Aeryn turned to face him. It was not her usual graceful twist of her body -- the one where she looked at him
over her shoulder, flipping her hair to one side with a deceptively slow swing of her head. This was a pivot on
the balls of her feet that did not require any movement from the center of her body. The stiff, abused muscles
did not hinder her look of amused disgust though. “You never give up,” she said after staring into his eyes for
“So I can come in after all.”
“No.” She disappeared behind the partition.
“Just a little peek,” John said, wheedling. He propped a shoulder against the edge of the doorway and did not
attempt to look inside.
“Only if you want to get shot.”
“You’re not armed. I checked,” he called over his shoulder.
“I’ll take care of it when I come out.”
It felt as though he had swallowed a liquid anesthetic that was working its way outward from the pit of his
stomach. Combined with the look of tolerance she had given him before moving into the alcove, the
nonsensical banter created a warm, hollow feeling several denches below his breastbone that expanded
outward with each additional exchange. It was a fizzing, disconnected sensation that meandered up his spine,
raised the hair along the back of his head, and relaxed tension in his shoulders that he had not been aware of
until it was gone.
A low, exasperated whisper made its way out of the alcove. “Frell.”
“Can you get up?” John did not wait for the answer. He was already inside the doorway by the time she
replied. The answer, when it came, sounded as though Aeryn had cornered the universal market on
“No. I can’t.”
“Comin’ in. Don’t shoot.” He rounded the end of the half-height wall.
“Just give me your hand. That’s all I need,” she said, reaching out with one of hers.
He ignored both the terse command and the outstretched hand. Before she could object, he sidled into the
cramped space alongside her, pulled her upright, twitched her soft, loose-fitting sleep pants into place, and
then picked her up in his arms. For once, she did not try to push herself out of his grasp. Aeryn looped her
arms around his neck to hold herself in place, and rested her head on his shoulder. John let out the lungful of
air he had been holding ready in order to drown out Aeryn’s expected complaints about being carried, and
carefully maneuvered out of the waste alcove.
She noticed the extended sigh. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all.”
“What are you thinking?”
What he was thinking was that the scant two motras to the bed was much too short to enjoy having her in his
arms, and that he would prefer to hang a left, go out the doors of the cell, and take an all day tour of Moya
without ever putting her down. Instead, he considered her unwillingness to give into her injuries, decided that
Aeryn would not want to be reminded of her temporary inability to take care of herself, even if his remark was
not serious, and settled for shaking his head. “Not a whole heck of a lot going on inside my skull right now.”
John waited while she lay down, offering a hand when leverage was needed to compensate for malfunctioning
muscles, and then hovered alongside the bed indecisively for several microts. Aeryn turned on her side in
stages, each movement carefully planned and executed before she made the next small adjustment. Getting
comfortable generally took her several dozen microts worth of such cautious adjustments. Having him beside
her only made things more difficult. “Why don’t I finish the night in my own --”
It was the first uncontrolled, purely emotional reaction he had seen since he had first laid Aeryn on her own bed
almost two solar days ago, and she had asked “Is this real?”
John dropped to one knee beside the bed and gently brushed an errant strand of hair away from her face.
“Aeryn, you’re hurting even when you’re lying down. You can try to hide it, but even these deficient blue eyes
can see that. You’ll sleep better and heal faster if you have more room.”
“No,” she repeated more quietly. Aeryn fought an extended internal battle with herself before she continued.
“Sometimes … sometimes I wake up in the dark, and I’m not certain where I am. It seems real, but I’m not sure
I’m truly here aboard Moya. Then I hear you breathing --”
“Snoring,” he said, finally admitting to something that he had continued to deny no matter how many times she
accused him of it.
She took full advantage of his confession. “Then I hear what sounds like a Command Carrier at emergency
thrust beside me, and your elbow digs into my ribs and your legs are in the way, and I’m so annoyed at you that
I know I must be aboard Moya after all.” She finished with another of the quiet, barely audible sighs that
normally meant she was in pain. This time it seemed to be connected to the small, glistening tide that was
quivering along her lower eyelids, threatening to spill down her cheeks.
There was no way to argue with that quiet, tremulously delivered admission of mid-night fears. John leaned
down with the intention of kissing her on the forehead, meaning to deliver assurance rather than passion. The
hand that caught him behind the neck and redirected his focus somewhere else put an end to anything that
innocent. The heady touch and smell of Aeryn Sun -- her soft lips against his, strong fingers rubbing gently
against the base of his skull, her second hand arriving to brush along the line of his jaw, and her breath moving
like a half-remembered dream along his cheek -- divorced him from the ability to deny her whatever she
He broke away, forced to pull hard against her grip in order to end the kiss. “You win,” he said.
“As if there was ever any question.” She gave him the full-wattage Aeryn Sun smile: the one that had the
power to weaken his knees and upset the rhythm of his heart.
“Took advantage of my hormones.” He slid in under the covers, moving slowly in order to give her time to
adjust. They shuffled about for a while in a careful migration, seeking mutually comfortable positions in a
limited amount of space. “Look,” John said after several futile attempts, “stop worrying about me. Just do
whatever is going to make you most comfortable. I’ll let you know if I can’t sleep. Scout’s honor.”
Aeryn pushed herself up on one elbow to look at him. “You’re sure?”
She stared at him for another three microts, using the time to come to a decision. Then she snared one of the
smaller cushions from the head of the bed and set about making herself comfortable. Microts later, Aeryn was
tucked in alongside and on top of him, her body enveloping his. The soft hummock of the cushion was tucked
between his hip and her stomach where she could curl aching, half-healed abdominal muscles around it,
seeking and finding some relief from the strain of holding them still. Once the adjustments and motion came to
a stop, John peered down his nose at Aeryn. She had her head on his shoulder, her arm looped behind his
shoulder to hold them together, using him like a body pillow. And for the first time in two solar days, she looked
as though she no longer hurt inside.
“Is this all right?” she asked.
If Aeryn was using his body to compensate for torture-weakened muscles, then he was getting something
nearly as critical out of the arrangement. One of her knees was nudging at the inside of his thigh, her upper
leg lying warm and unbothersome across his hip and groin, and the soft cushioning of her breasts pressing
against his ribs was distracting him to the point that he could barely form an answer. There was not the
slightest inkling of arousal; Aeryn was too tired and damaged for that sort of reaction to take over. But he was
pinned to the bed by a comforting weight that he had yearned after for too long, and it would take an attack by
an entire squadron of sheyang ships before he would consider asking her to move. He was in heaven.
“You’re uncomfortable,” Aeryn said.
John realized he had never answered her question. He had wandered off to a muzzy sort of half-waking floating
place where there was little left in his universe other than the feel of Aeryn lying against and on top of him.
“No! I’m perfect. Abso-frelling-lutely perfect.”
Aeryn ran her hand across his chest, idly tracing aimless patterns on his skin for several microts. When she
spoke, it was the sort of quiet mumble that preceded sleep. “What was your nightmare about?”
“Nothing particular. Just a very weird version of how my first day here didn’t happen.”
“No. Crais. But I dreamed I had a wife who had come with me. Crais killed her out of revenge for his brother
and then ordered his men to shoot me.”
“Mmmm,” Aeryn hummed into his chest. “Caroline?”
Aeryn did not seem bothered that he had been dreaming about someone other than her. John could not tell if
that was because she was secure in the knowledge that he loved her, or because she was nine-tenths asleep.
“Alexandra. I probably haven’t told you about her.” There was no response from Aeryn. He decided that the
lack of reaction was due to sleep, not peace of mind.
Nearly twenty microts passed before she mumbled her next question. “Was it her getting killed that made it a
nightmare? Losing your wife?”
John looked down at her. Although drowsy, the grayish-blue eyes were watching him carefully in the muted
light of nighttime aboard Moya. John caught a lock of her hair in his fingers and brushed it lightly across his
lips. It was soft, smelled sweet and clean, and was warm from lying against his skin. “Losing the woman I love
was the most horrifying moment of my entire life, and it had absolutely nothing to do with Alex.”
She smiled at him and a moment later fell asleep. The exhaustion she refused to acknowledge claimed her in a
matter of microts. One instant she was awake; then her eyelids closed in the first half of a blink and simply
John carefully snared the thermal sheet and pulled it into place, then lay awake for over an arn, simply enjoying
the warm pressure of her body against his and reflecting on what it had taken to arrive at this moment: cycles
of waiting, hoping, trying to break through Aeryn’s thick armor, followed by another cycle of first physical
separation, then emotional, and then another agonizing parting. There had been one fleeting moment when he
had her back, so brief that they had not been able to steal more than a few brief microts to be together, and
then he had almost lost her forever. He did not need or want exclamations of desire or faithfulness from Aeryn.
He wanted the quiet moments like this when he was allowed to make her part of his heart and soul. It was her
gusting breath tickling his chest and the way the thick sheets of dark hair spread out across his arm and
shoulder that relegated the past two miserable cycles to the status of ‘bad dream’. She was here, her elbow
was digging uncomfortably into his ribs, and even after he fell asleep, his subconscious would rest easy in the
knowledge that Aeryn Sun was alive and back aboard Moya.
It was just as he was starting to doze off that she stirred, took a deeper breath, and the arm around his
shoulder clutched at him more tightly. “Sssshhh,” he breathed out, “you’re on Moya. It’s real.”
She did not speak. Aeryn turned her head so her forehead rested against his chest, and stayed that way for a
while, her body transmitting tiny trembling quivers. Even if he had been absolutely certain of the source of
those vibrations, which he was not, he never would have told her that he suspected she was crying. In time, the
trembling stopped, her breathing slowed and eased, and she nestled her head against his shoulder where it
had been earlier. John continued to stroke her back until he felt her body slump more heavily against his
chest, signaling that she had gone back to sleep. Only then, when he was sure that Aeryn was resting
peacefully, did he close his eyes and let himself slide away.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
This is a Work In Progress.
It is NOT finished yet.
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