Tough Love - Addendum

Aeryn woke to the unpleasant grip of soaked bedding clinging to her skin.  She lay still for several microts while
she tried to recall some reason for the damp pillow and thermal sheet.  There was a hole in her memory where
the explanation was supposed to reside.  She tried to sit up to disentangle herself.  Nothing happened.  The
first twinge of irrational panic squirmed along her spine, urging her to try something more strenuous, seeking
proof that her body would work if she tried hard enough.  She managed to roll onto her side, turning into the
radiating warmth beside her that was John.  Everything suddenly got worse.

“John!” she gasped, fighting for air.  Even her lungs seemed to be malfunctioning.  He grumbled a
not-awake acknowledgement.  “John, I need help.”  

“Aeryn?”  He was awake in an instant; groggy with a sleep-slurred voice but attentive.  “What’s the matter?”  

“I can’t … think.  I can’t move.  Something … something’s wrong.”  

A split-microt later John’s lips were against her forehead, strangely bundled hands holding her head motionless
long enough for him to make a firm contact.  “You’re burning up, babe.  This shouldn’t be happening.  You were
fine this evening, this shouldn’t be happening.”  

“I was f-f-f-fine from what?” she stammered.  There was no recall of the arns leading up to the moment when
she’d awoken dripping with sweat.  “John, I feel terrible.”

“You’ve got heat delirium, Aeryn, and I don’t know why.  Oh God, please tell me they didn’t infect you with
something.”  John was out of bed, moving about their chamber so quickly it was making her dizzy.  He grabbed
his comms off his gunbelt, clipped the badge to the waist of the black trunks he slept in, and was magically
beside her again.  She didn’t remember him crossing from where Winona was hanging to the side of the bed.  

“Come on.  We’ve got to get you cooled down.”  John’s hard muscled arms dug in beneath her shoulders and
knees and she was lifted, clutched securely against his chest.

Aeryn looped her arm around his neck and pulled herself close to kiss the side of his neck.  “I love you,” she
said into his ear.  “Put me down and let’s make love.”  

“Not right now, Aeryn.”  He was in a hurry for some reason that she couldn’t fathom.  “Pilot!  Check Moya’s
datastores for anything about this sort of thing.  And then get the DRDs to fire up the scanner in the medical
bay.  If getting her cooled down doesn’t help, we may need it to figure out what’s wrong.”  

“Working on it,” came Pilot’s standard response.  “Shall I prepare the cold room?”  

“No, that’ll take too long.  She’s burning up.  I’m on my way to the Center Sluice Chamber.  Ask Moya to fill it
with cold water, Pilot.  As cold as possible.”  John ducked through the curtains, barely waiting for the bars of the
door to swing out of the way, and broke into a run.  

“Not cold,” she murmured against the side of his neck.  “Need hot.  Hot and wet so we can recreate.  Frell, frell,
frell our brains out.”  

“That proves you’re delirious,” John grunted through the strain of carrying her at a sprint.  “But you can bet I’ll
hold you to that suggestion when you’re better.  Pilot?  Any clue why this is happening to her?”  

Aeryn listened with little interest to the fast-paced exchange between John and Pilot, taking even less note of
their conclusions.  The words were strung together in long, confusing chains, discussing Sebacean physiology
and mysterious causes that she couldn’t be bothered to disentangle.  She clutched John around the neck,
concentrated on the solid bulk of his body, breathed in the wonderful smell of him, and let everything slip very
far away.  John Crichton was taking care of her; that was all she needed to know.  John would make everything
right.  

*  *  *  *  *

Crichton barely slowed as he turned the corner into the Sluice Chamber.  The last four steps as he approached
the low rim of the trough were a hard, barefoot-slapping deceleration, followed by a cautious bound over the
edge.  He’d gotten his balance right, Aeryn’s weight was in close to his chest where it wouldn’t upset his center
of gravity, and he’d completely overlooked the nearly frictionless layer of fine silt that coated the bottom of the
trough.  Both feet shot out from under him, and he hit the water with a loud smack, Aeryn on top of him.  

“Ohhhh, SHIT!” he howled as the icy water closed in over both their bodies.  Moya had taken his request for
cold water to an extreme.  “Oh god oh god oh god,” he chanted in an anguished moan.  His left arm was
devoted to holding Aeryn’s head clear of the water while his right hand worked beneath her body to clutch at
his aching scrotum.  “Oh dear God, they’ll never thaw out.”  He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the
discomfort.  The situation bordered on funny, but it was also approaching excruciating.  He gasped for breath
against the cold-induced ache, and watched Aeryn’s face as the flaming signals of an overheated body faded
from her cheeks.  

Tens then hundreds of microts passed as he let go of his tortured anatomy and began sloshing cold water
across Aeryn’s upper chest and throat.  His breathing became increasingly ragged as hers steadied and
slowed; his body started to shudder from cold as her muscle spasms eased and faded.  He’d been forced to
make a decision based on almost no information, and had guessed that the shower wouldn’t provide enough
cooling to stop her runaway physiology.  Taking the time to bring her to the sluice trough had been a risk.  He
prayed that it had been worth it.  

“Come on, Aeryn,” he whispered through chattering teeth.  “Don’t do this to me.  We made it through today,
don’t you go Easy-Bake Oven on me now.”  

“John?”  Aeryn’s mumbled greeting was marginally more coherent than the slurred invitations to frell that had
accompanied his wild dash through Moya’s corridors.  

“Hey there, hot stuff.”  The flush was gone and she’d stopped shaking.  Crichton let her slide out of his lap to sit
on the bottom of the trough.  It brought the water level up to the base of her throat.  

“What’s happening?” she asked slowly.  “I … Do I have heat delirium?”  

“I don’t think so.”  His feet had long since gone numb from the cold, which was a relief since they didn’t ache
anymore.  The lack of sensation was working its way up his legs, and for the first time in arns, his hands didn’t
hurt.  His hands, like his feet, were almost completely senseless.  John ignored the expanding chill, more
concerned about her recovery than his own discomfort.  “Aeryn, tell me what happened aboard Moya today.”  

Aeryn bit her lower lip and frowned.  “Scarrans?  Something to do with bioloid Scarrans?  That can’t be right.”  

“No, your recall is perfect.”  Her symptoms were fading as fast as they’d appeared.  “What else do you
remember?”  

Aeryn reached underwater and groped until she found one of his hands.  It came up streaming water from
sopping bandages.  “You burned your hands trying to protect me.  I did have heat delirium; it was this afternoon
though, not tonight.”  

“Pilot found a single reference in the datastores to some sort of rebound reaction to what you went through
today.  Our theory is that your body was under so much stress that it’s having trouble regulating internal
temperatures.  This could be all there is to it, or it may go on for arns before it settles down; there’s no way to
know how long it will take for your body to recover.”  His explanation was punctuated by the clatter of chattering
teeth.  

“Can I get out?  I feel better.”  

“If you can stand up on your own, I suppose you’re well enough to get out.”  He gave her the smallest of nudges
to get her started, then hovered protectively as she first sat up, and then got to her feet.  

“There’s something wrong with you,” Aeryn said in concern as he floundered for several microts.  “What’s that
matter?”  

“My feet are frozen, and my mivonks are so cold, they’re making love to my tonsils.”  

John shook his head when she tried to help him; she might get hurt if she lost her balance while supporting any
portion of his weight.  He made it to his feet, and they sloshed together to the edge of the trough and made
their way carefully over the rounded edge.  

John sat down on the rim and pounded one foot and then the other on the floor, waiting for some feeling to
return to his shriveled, bloodless feet.  The wandering air drafts in the chamber felt warm at first, almost hot in
comparison to the excruciating cold of the water.  The swirling air changed from comfortable to chilling in a
matter of microts though, and his shivers escalated to violent shuddering.   

“You’re freezing,” Aeryn said.  Their roles were abruptly reversed as she helped him to his feet and guided his
progress into the corridors.  “Why didn’t you bring any clothes or a towel with you?”  

“I w-w-w-was in a hurry,” he stammered through clattering teeth.  “Toss my lovely wife into an ice cold bath
because she’s the hottest babe in the universe.”  The small bit of silliness emerged in rushes, stammers, and
uncontrolled pulses of air.

“You sound delirious.”  

His laughter was every bit as uncontrolled as his speech.  “You were sounding a bit delirious not too long ago.  
You made an interesting suggestion.”  The cold had bored deep inside.  The mild exertion of walking wasn’t
doing anything to warm him up, and John began to wonder what it would take to disperse the chill.  

“What did I say?” Aeryn asked hesitantly.

“Frell, frell, frell our brains out,” he quoted, and began laughing even harder at her look of confused
embarrassment.

They lurched and stumbled their way back to their quarters, stopping across the corridor long enough to make
sure Ian was sleeping soundly before finishing the short journey.  Aeryn guided his erratic progress toward the
bed, a contrast to how they’d left the chamber.  

“I’ll warm up in a while,” John protested.  Aeryn was hurrying around the converted cell, grabbing towels, dry
clothes, a heavier shirt than his usual thin t-shirt, and a fistful of bandages for his hands.  “Aeryn, take it easy.  
The last thing we need right now is for you to exert yourself and raise your body temperature.  Once I’m in bed
and covered up, I’ll be fine.”  His complaint emerged in broken phrases, interspersed between the gasps of his
uncontrolled breathing and continuous shivers.  

“Your lips are purple, and you feel like a block of ice.  Why the frell didn’t you get out of the water and just hang
on to me from the edge of the trough?”  The question sounded more like a concerned outburst than an actual
inquiry, so John clamped his chattering teeth together, and didn’t bother answering.  

Aeryn dumped everything on the bed beside him and plucked her well-worn commando blade out of the
jumble.  John eyed it warily, wondering if he was going to be forced into bed at knifepoint.  She took a microt to
pull one of the shimmering thermal sheets around his shoulders, then reversed the knife with a quick flip in the
air, and neatly slit the bandages from wrist to fingertips.  In a scant two hundred microts, despite having to cope
with his violent shaking, both hands were carefully dried, coated with the antiseptic burn gel, and bandaged
from wrists to just short of his fingertips.

“You’re not getting any warmer.  If anything, you’re worse,” Aeryn observed as she began wrapping his second
hand.  “John, there are times when you are an absolute idiot.  Why didn’t you get out of the water?”  

“Runaway temperature, remember?” he stammered back.  “I was … I was worried about you, Aeryn.  I couldn’t
think about --”  The rest of his explanation was lost in a staccato clattering of teeth.   

“You couldn’t think about anything but me,” she finished for him, sounding more sympathetic than she had
microts earlier.  She spared a hand long enough to run her fingers across his cheek, the touch of her caress
lost to the numbing effect of cold, then she went back to fastening the last of the bandages in place.  

“If you start to overheat again and we have to go in the shower, then this is a waste of time,” he changed the
subject with relief.  She ignored him and went on with her self-appointed tasks, her brief show of aggravation
vanishing as fast as it had appeared.  Despite his concern, Aeryn showed no sign of a repeat of the night’s
earlier problem … but she’d also seemed fine when they’d gone to bed.  The dark-haired whirlwind of activity
tossed the knife and used items into a corner and began toweling him dry.  He reached for the towel, intending
to do it himself.  It was twitched out of his reach, and she worked her way down his shoulders and torso.  

“Aeryn …” he tried again.

“Get out of those wet shorts,” she ordered.  Aeryn pulled him to his feet and performed the small chore for him,
sliding the soaked fabric down his legs until they slopped to the floor.  That was when the fast, assured
movements came to a stop.  

“John,” she said in a choking, nearly strangled voice.  “You’ve lost something.”  

He looked down at himself, if only to confirm what he’d felt ever since his abrupt landing in the sluice trough.  
“You already know that happens when I get cold.  You said it happens with Sebaceans too.”  It had been nearly
a quarter of an arn since he’d gotten out of the freezing water, but from the level of discomfort, he didn’t need
to look to know that the situation between his legs hadn’t improved to any significant degree.  

“It’s never been this bad.”  Aeryn pushed him back to sit on the bed, strange little puffs of breath and snorts
working their way loose as she finished drying his legs.  One laugh got loose and she turned her head away
from him as she fought to keep it under control.  

“It’s not funny,” John complained.  He huddled over his lower body and called to his missing anatomy.  “Guys,
you can come out.  No more ice torture, I promise.”  Aeryn burst out laughing.  “You’ve hurt their feelings.  
They’ll never come out now,” he lamented.  

“We need to warm you up.”  Aeryn pushed him back to lie on the bed, wrapped the thermal sheet more
securely around his upper body, then stepped away long enough to slip out of her damp top and shorts.  

“Aeryn,” John started hesitantly.  She’d deliberately left his lower body uncovered, and the blue-gray eyes were
bright with the mischievous gleam that always appeared when she decided to take the lead in their love-
making.  Aeryn joined him on the bed, kneeling over him with her legs straddling his thighs.  “If you’re thinking
that this is a good time for --”  

His objection was lost to a long jerking sigh that bordered on a moan.  Both of her hands were between his
legs, cupping his chilled anatomy.  It was a sensation unlike anything he’d ever felt:  warm gentle caresses
against his painfully cold scrotum, her heat enveloping him, the mildest of inducements to restore normal blood
flow.  Warm fingers, burning hot against his overly cool skin, stroked his hips, left hot trails up his belly to rub
his stomach, then traveled down to rejoin the one hand that had remained in place.  Gently massaging,
kneading, coaxing the shrunken organs to return to their normal condition, Aeryn paused only long enough to
blow onto her fingers, bringing them back to the incendiary level of warmth before diving back to tend to his
quickly warming genitals.  

John closed his eyes tightly, and shook in reaction to what was happening below his waist.  The sudden rush of
blood to his groin was creating a single magma-hot zone in his otherwise frozen body.  Aeryn shifted to one
side, the soft flesh between her legs coming to rest on one of his thighs, pouring the heat from her body into a
single section of his.  She lowered herself onto him, tucked herself in against just one side of his body, and
pulled the thermal sheet around both their bodies.  

He was hot and cold, fire and ice -- one side of his chest freezing and the nipple hardened into painful
constriction, the other side rapidly thawing beneath the elegant body of Aeryn Sun.  The insistent stroking
between his legs hadn’t stopped when she’d lain down beside him.  The combination of her warmth and his
arousal was doing what the thermal sheet and his own meager body warmth had not been able to accomplish,
restoring warmth, not to mention a painful level of desire, to his body.  Aeryn kissed him on the chest, then
massaged the nipple closest to her with her tongue, gentle rollers of warmth and texture rocking across the
small bit of puckered flesh in time with the movement of her fingers between his legs, increasing the bodily
schism he was enduring.

“Aeryn,” he tried to complain.  Her hand reached lower and rubbed his leg, found a cool spot on the inside of
his thigh and restored life to it one warm pass at a time.  It was only his leg she was stroking, and the result was
immediate and intense.  There was another, unbelievable surge of warmth within denches of where her fingers
were barely brushing the tender skin of his inner thigh, a wondrous easing of the discomfort in his groin, and he
let out a long, chuckling moan.  “Good God,” he exclaimed, his voice gone guttural and thick.  

“They weren’t permanently frozen after all,” she hummed into his shoulder.  Aeryn eased his hardening cock to
one side and returned to the slow, gentle massage of his balls as they emerged from where they’d retracted.  
“The boys are going to be fine.”      

“Aeryn,” he panted through his growing arousal.  “This is a bad idea.  You were -- Oh Jesus!”  His protest was
lost as she bent over his lower body and ran her tongue up his semi-hardened shaft.  The already warming,
partially engorged tissue was caressed by a warmer touch.  Streams of liquefied heat worked from base to tip
repeatedly, and then treated the head to a gentle basting.  As though a magnet had drawn every red blood
corpuscle into his groin, he was suddenly, achingly erect, and on the verge of an unstoppable release.

“No!  God, stop!” he pleaded.  

Aeryn sat up.  “I thought you liked that.”  Despite her obvious disappointment, one hand continued to stroke his
hardened shaft, occasionally diving deeper to fondle the now-relaxed mass of his balls.  John grabbed at her
with clumsy, mittened hands, trying to stop her before it was too late.  

“I do love it when you do that, but it’s too much tonight.”  His breath was coming out in shudders and gasps, this
time due to an impending climax rather than cold.  John closed his eyes for several microts and fought for
control -- deep, slow breaths helping him back away from the brink.  Tens of microts ticked by before the
tension receded to sustainable levels.  He let out a long breath of relief and had to think for a while before he
could remember what he’d wanted to say.  

“Aeryn, you were delirious not much more than an arn ago.  We both need some rest.  This is not a good night
to do this.”

She eased down on top of his chest and kissed him, slowly at first and then with more fervor.  She started with
small nipping tastes, then progressed to something hungrier until her tongue dove deep, forced itself inside his
mouth and took over.  He pulled her securely against his body, her breasts rubbing silky and warm, one firm
thigh continuing the massage between his legs, and met her kiss with enthusiasm.  Aeryn’s fingers were
running behind his ears, rubbing hard at the tendons at the base of his skull, stroking lightly along his jaw, and
all the while it felt like she was trying to become one with him, starting with their mouths.   

She broke away long enough to breathe, ducked down to suck at one of his earlobes, and then worked her way
back to his lips.  “Want to stop?” she whispered deviously between kisses.  “Want to stop now?”  

Her warmth radiated against him, from the blast-furnace heat of her breasts against his chest, to the subtle
glow of her arms lying across his shoulders.  The cool air of the chamber drifted through his damp hair,
insinuated its way along his feet and lower legs, providing a reminder that he wasn’t entirely warm yet.  And
behind it all was the hot, painful-sweet pressure of his erection, dwarfing every other sensation.  The need for
release was building again, making it difficult to argue with her.  The mischievous gleam in her eyes as Aeryn
continued to touch him --deliberately provoking his body even as she feigned waiting -- was almost more than
he could stand.  

“What about now?” she prompted again.  Her lips were working slowly down the underside of his throat while
her fingers drifted up and down his neck beneath his ears -- a sensation so exquisite he could barely think to
answer her.  “Want to stop?”  

He didn’t.  He wanted to turn her over, spend long microts admiring her body, and then examine every dench of
her until the long, erratic breaths began, signaling her expanding arousal.  He wanted to feel the wondrous
slide of her muscles beneath the warm, smooth skin, and finally, when she began to plead with him, enter her
slowly and carefully, treasuring every incremental bit of progress until he was buried in her depths.  More than
any of that, he wanted to watch her watching him, laughter lurking as he approached the end of his control.  
Aeryn loved it when he was hovering on the brink of an orgasm, delight plain to see in her smile and in her
attempts to hold him in that thought-dissolving pre-ejaculation moment.  No matter how many times they made
love, he thrilled to watch that grin appear, and too often lost the battle to hang on within microts once she was
watching him like that.  

“We should stop,” he said anyway.  It was Aeryn’s health he was concerned about.  If her body wasn’t
regulating her internal temperature correctly, the last thing she needed was the exertion of recreating.  

Aeryn rested her hands alongside his head and looked down at him.  He peered down his nose at her breasts
hovering so close to his chest, brushed his fingertips along the pale, soft skin, and waited for her answer.  

“Ian was exhausted after everything that happened today,” she said with a hint of a smile.  “He hasn’t even
moved since he fell asleep.”   

He spent several microts considering the rarity of a soundly sleeping son, weighing it against the possibility of
triggering another bout of heat delirium.  He brushed sheets of dark hair back behind Aeryn’s ears with singed
fingertips, thought about how close he’d come to losing her that day, and desperately wanted to be one with
her -- to feel her hands clutching hard at his shoulders, her legs wrapped around his hips to keep their bodies
together, two bodies moving as a single unit in a wordless affirmation that they would always be together.  

“He’s sound asleep,” Aeryn repeated in a whisper.  

A lone finger ran from the base of his throat, down the center of his chest to his stomach, where it traced a
wandering pattern.  It was a familiar habit.  She was writing her thoughts invisibly on his body, her finger arcing
and dodging across his abdomen in the jerky Sebacean script.  He would sometimes wake to the gentle scribing
across his back or a shoulder, turn in the dark, gather her into his arms and ask what tale she had been
spelling out upon him.  He had his pen and his notebook; Aeryn used the more fleeting method of her fingertip
on his skin to record her inner wishes and reflections.  

“What does it say?” he asked.  

A quiet smile appeared above him.  “Frell, frell, frell our brains out,” Aeryn whispered, and blushed.  

John felt the soft, exciting punch in his guts, elated that after so many cycles together, openly admitting that she
wanted to make love could still bring the soft tinge of embarrassment to Aeryn’s cheeks.  It was only the lighter
pink of mild discomfiture and arousal however, without any of the dangerous highlights of heat delirium.  And he
would have her in his arms, where he would know immediately if she was beginning another relapse.    

“Come here.”  At his order, Aeryn lowered herself onto his chest, watching him with an inquisitive half-smile from
no more than four denches away.  He kissed her forehead, then each side of her neck.  

“What are you doing?” she asked when the caresses began mapping out an unusual pattern.  

“Making sure you’re cool as a cucumber.”  

Aeryn submitted patiently, using the microts to consider how much the day’s events must have taken out of
him.  For her it had been a physical battering; for him it had been nothing less than emotional torture.  In many
ways, her recovery was simpler.  Heat delirium was a frightening but familiar enemy, easily forgotten once it was
past.  John would need more time to get over his ordeal -- if he ever did.  From this day forward, his days and
nights would be filled with the reminder that it might happen again.  She needed to give him time to adjust to the
new reality.     

Softly lipped kisses were progressing along her neck to one side, interspersed with nearly silent snuffles.  He
pulled her closer and buried his face in her hair, taking deeper breaths.  One heavily-wrapped hand drifted
down her back, the other held her tight against him, keeping her close so he could continue nuzzling her
beneath one ear.

“Now what are you doing?”  She turned her head so she could kiss him in return, the quiet rasp of his beard
against her cheek a prickling contrast to the softer touch of his lips.  

“More checking,” he answered.

“You don’t seem to be checking my body temperature anymore,” Aeryn observed.    

A sudden heave shifted her more securely onto his body and he wrapped both arms around her, a well-known
signal that he intended to roll them over so he was on top.  Aeryn moved fast, faster than human reflexes could
ever match, and got a knee and an elbow out to the side to stop them.  There was a muffled grunt beneath her
as they rocked to one side and came to an abrupt stop.  John eased his grip on her so he could look into her
eyes.  

“No?” he asked, looking puzzled.  

“Your hands,” she explained succinctly.  

The overly simple answer implied that he wouldn’t be able to support his weight with his arms, but it was
something else -- something she didn’t want to explain to John at this moment.  She wanted to watch him,
gauge his responses, hold him at the peak of excitement for as long as possible tonight, and that meant being
in control.  There was a need gestating within her:  something far greater than a desire to give him something
back in return for the impossible decision he’d been forced to make that day, far beyond wanting to let him
know how much she loved him.  There were no words to explain how badly she needed to be with him this night,
no description of the level of passion she felt.  Saying ‘Frell, frell, frell our brains out’ out loud had been the
work of her brief delirium, but it had been a concise expression of the near obsession taking over her every
thought.     

It began slowly, with light teasing touches, building on the arousal they’d already achieved and left simmering.  
Small moments emerged from the tidal wave of sensation to be recorded indelibly on her memory:  whispering
fingertips rounding her breasts, half-bandaged thumbs pressing against her nipples as she leaned down to kiss
him; John’s stomach muscles flexing beneath her hands, pressing hard against her weight as he breathed
deep, and returned the darting exploration of her tongue; his thighs pressing hard against her butt as she
leaned over to kiss him again, thrusting her body upward along his so he could reach a breast with his lips.  
There was the wonderful crawling burst of excitement as he sucked at one nipple, every nerve from head to
toes tingling with reaction to the single touch; the warm hiss of his breath against her chest; and the soft ruffle
of his hair between her fingers as she encouraged him to continue.  

From the nape of her neck to her buttocks, the padded hands wandered in long sweeps, cooler fingertips
exploring the contours of her body, stopping to caress the spots he knew would excite her.  The outer rim of a
breast, the spot at the base of her spine, a firmer pressure against her buttocks, digging deep into the muscle
to find the nerves that seemed to lead straight to her stomach:  nothing was passed over as he met her kisses
with enthusiasm and used her body’s reactions as a weapon against her.  The growing sphere of heat within
her pelvis expanded, reached the critical point, and broke loose, infusing her entire torso.  John’s lips wandered
along the underside of her breast, caught at the nipple and gave it a soft, painless pinch; another heavier pulse
expanded from the center of her being outward.  Quiescent muscles tightened, pulled hard against unresisting
flesh, and a warm tickle eased along her inner thigh, warning her that patience was finite.  

She pulled away from him and eased down his body, lowering her hips carefully to trap the bulk of his erection
between them.  John took a deep breath and let it out in stages as she settled into place, pinning the hardened
organ against his belly.  The tendons in his neck flexed and eased in waves as he fought against something
invisible, his breath straining in rhythm with whatever he was fighting.  She rubbed his chest while she waited for
the surges to fade away, signaling that he was under control, and then began sliding gently against his length,
massaging him with the moist tissues between her legs.  Aeryn closed her eyes, willingly abandoning the
wonderful site of John’s gradual rise toward the point of release in favor of relying on solely on touch and
sound.  

The sound of his breathing matched her tempo, interspersed with guttural sighs and small groans.  The rigid
warmth slid easily, the slick head giving her own engorged bundle of nerves an exquisite nudge with every
pass, the heat between their bodies increasing with every microt.  She faltered for a moment when John
grasped her about the waist, felt the brief tremor in his body that spoke of the pain generated by that simple
embrace, and let him continue despite her concern for his injuries.  He was guiding her, steadying her so that
she remained in the position that was bringing her more pleasure than she could sustain.  

Nearly frictionless from her own fluids, the prodding tip and ridged head was like a burrowing entity:  pursuing
her if she raised herself off him, constantly seeking her out, rubbing firmly across the swollen, overcharged
button of nerves.  The first sparking pangs of an impending climax created the nearly painful ache deep within,
plucking uncomfortably at her stomach for a split-microt before blossoming into a wild need to goad it into a full
blown orgasm.  The vibrating frisson traveled from the base of her spine to her skull, tightened her scalp, and
begged for release, for a shrieking frenzy to expend the massed energy waiting to be let loose.  Her legs eased
wider, seemingly of their own volition, and she stopped moving, a drawn-out tremor shaking her body as she
fought to stay in control.  

“More,” John whispered from somewhere far away.  

She pulled his hands away from her waist, pinned them to the mattress, and froze where she was on top of
him.  It took more than ten breaths before the teetering near-climax eased, ten breaths during which she
concentrated on John’s body instead of her own:  the feel of his hips and thighs where she sat on him, the small
surges beneath her that was him trying to move enough to continue the provocative massage, and the
wondrous feel of him between her legs, promising something far better than she had just passed up.  

“Stop that,” she said once she was certain she was under control.  John was strong enough to lift her weight
with his hips.  His subdued effort was nothing more than teasing.  His laugh was so quiet she felt it more than
heard it, the small rumbles transmitted through his frame into hers, but at least he stopped moving.  

He continued to laugh at what he had done to her, the blue eyes gazing up at her filled with delight and the
untroubled happiness that had been too rare for too many cycles when they’d first known each other.  Aeryn
knew that she was the source of his pleasure; no one else in the universe could make him look like that.  He
loved Ian with an intensity that often overwhelmed her, but this particular look was reserved for when he was
with her.  A wave of muscle-weakening warmth flooded out from the center of her body, a physical reaction to
the love that she had taken so long to understand and accept.  She leaned down to kiss him, and his hands
burrowed in under her legs, pressing hard but relying on her to lift her weight off him.  

The prodding hardness of his cock followed her as she raised her hips, until she hovered poised above the
glistening shaft.  He lunged convulsively upward with his lower body, as though not in control of his own actions,
and she leaned against his stomach with both hands, pinning him to the bed.  John licked his lips and peered
down at where their bodies were barely touching, where she was easing back and forward, brushing herself
lightly across the already wet head of his erection.  

“Killing me,” he protested in a breathless gasp.  

“Is there a problem?”  It was her turn to tease.  

“There’s going to be one in about ten microts if you keep this up.”

“So you’re sure you’re ready?  We could wait a little longer if you think you need some more time.”  John glared
at her, and she relented.   

Aeryn sank onto him in stages, cherishing the straining muscles in his chest, the fluttering eyelids, and the far-
away distracted look that each additional small engulfment created.  Before coming to rest, she raised herself
clear of his entire length, then settled onto his hips with one firm slide.  Internal muscles made one brief
complaint, a twinge that stopped just shy of painful, then stretched to accommodate the welcome intrusion.  
John lay without moving for several microts, as though he were the one impaled, staked to the mattress by
something unhurtful, and then sat up with a lunge, pulling her forcefully into his lap, and helping her wrap her
legs around his hips.    

He was deep within, the pressure seeming to nudge against her spine, quietly pulsing against already spasming
muscles, the inner cadence matched by the small pounding where her fingers rested against the side of his
throat -- as though his body was singing to her, within and without.  John hugged her close, one hand pressing
her hips into his, and rocked, each small movement nudging at the limits of her internal spaces, and she was
too close, too ready, too needful of this particular moment.  

“It’s all right, Aeryn” he whispered, suddenly tender, somehow sensing the battle she was losing.  “Go ahead.  
Let go.”  He brushed her hair back away from her face, and watched her as though enthralled.  He held her
securely, keeping her safely against him, and slowly massaged one breast with the other hand, leaning down
long enough to draw his tongue across the nipple.     

She couldn’t have stopped it if she’d wanted.  It was a quiet, shuddering, shivering climax:  one of her mouth
pressed against his shoulder to muffle the small cries, of rampaging inner muscles and the wild firing of
synapses while the rest of her body remained still, and of John holding her tightly, warm, strong arms wrapped
around her, and him rocking into her whenever the frenzy threatened to lag.  It was his lips against the side of
her neck, the hard support of his thighs beneath her, and one hand pressing harder against her butt, urging
her to drive herself onto the comfortable thrusting of his cock.  

Her awareness spun back gradually, first registering the brush of her erect nipples against the hair on his
chest, then the taste of John Crichton where her teeth had sunk into the flesh of his shoulder, biting hard
without breaking the skin, and finally the gently lipped caresses against the side of her neck that hadn’t
stopped at any point throughout her orgasm.  She leaned away from him at last, ran her fingers through his
hair, lingered at the back of his neck for a microt to rub the muscles there, and then continued down his back to
embrace him.  He kissed the underside of her throat, and it began again.  

It started out slowly, in partnership, resuming a coordinated rocking with arms and legs keeping them together
as though they were one.  Her body was momentarily depleted; his resumed its slow build toward a final
crescendo.  Face to face where they could watch and touch, hands free to explore, tease, stroke and caress, it
became a contest to see if he could hold out long enough for her to rejoin him, while she was trying to drive him
to the point of complete surrender.  John tried hard, but this time he was the one who was too close.  

She felt it begin, the nearly subliminal thrumming traveling through his body as a single organ took over his
existence.  John’s head lolled back on his shoulders, his eyes closed as he turned his awareness inward, and a
dark flush spread across his upper chest and throat.  Each breath became deeper, throatier, until he sucked in
a lungful of air and held it.  Aeryn grasped him tight with arms and legs, and held still, concentrating on keeping
even her internal muscles quiet, freezing in place against him.  John let out a long whine, nearly a whimper, and
shuddered against her, every bit of his body responding to the stimulus except the critical organ, which
remained hard and undiminished inside her.      

“Aerynnnnn,” he strung out her name in what was both a complaint and a plea.  “Sweet Jesus.”  

It was her turn to smile at him, watching as he recovered from the pleasurable torture of an orgasm without
release.  “Ready?”  

John shook his head.  She could tell when it was time to stop all movement, but only John knew when he was
under control to the point that they could begin again.  He loved to complain about her doing this to him, but he
never asked her not to do it, and he never gave her the signal to start again if he was still teetering on a loss of
control.  

“I love you,” she said, breaking their ritual.  Silence allowed him the concentration he claimed he needed in
order to survive what she had just done to him.    

He opened his eyes, looked up at her, and smiled, transitioning back into the here and now.  “And I love you.”  

This time it was nearly frantic; it was physical, sweating exertion, and desire that wouldn’t wait for tender
touches and teasing.  She lost track of time, the microts passing unnoticed as she focused on friction, fullness,
and the quiet internal ache.  Her memories were of a trickle of sweating coursing down John’s face, him leaning
closing to run his tongue up the center of her chest, him trying to lay her down and the confused moment of
tangled arms and legs when she’d stopped him because he could penetrate more deeply this way.  His fingers
pushed into the hair at the back of her neck, familiar but strange because of the bandaged hands, and he
forced her head back so he could kiss the underside of her throat.  Interspersed were the suspended moments
when she held him with every bit of her strength, preventing him from moving long enough to ease back from
an impending climax, each denied release driving him further toward an unequalled pinnacle, until finally there
was only his body shaking beneath her, his motions breaking down under extreme provocation, and she knew
he couldn’t hold out much longer.  

“Wait,” she whispered into his ear.  She was close, but lagging behind.  “Wait for me.”  

His nod was a confused, jerking series of twitches, and she knew he didn’t have much restraint left.  John
pressed hard, driving deep, filling her to overflowing.  Muscles stretched to aching capacity, small spasming
twinges beginning as her body strove to accept him, hips thrown wide apart to give him more access.  Gone
was the energetic thrusting, replaced by an insistent rocking, short-lived riffs sounding her depths, forcing the
strong internal of muscles to accept him with each thumping arrival, insistent and needful, demanding that she
join him in release.  She was full of John Crichton, surrounded by him, possessed by him, and she loved him
beyond comprehension.  Wetter mouthings circled her breast, found the center and sucked more heavily at the
entire mass, suctioning energy into that one link, inciting her stomach to the queasy surging of infinite
excitement.  Fabric-padded hands pressed against her lower back, swept up and down her spine, and stroked
her lightly beneath the ear.  And all the while, the thick, hot bulk of him thrust at her depths, until, in a series of
irrevocable steps, always traveling upward without the possibility of descent, she found herself teetering on the
brink, ready to join him.      

“Look at me,” she commanded.  John’s head came up obediently and he looked into her eyes.  He looked stun-
shot, eyes dazed and unfocussed as he tried to split his attention between her and something more far more
commanding occurring inside his body.  “I love you,” she said, kissed him, and felt the internal explosion begin,
her muscles seizing his cock, urging it to join in the frenetic release.  “Now.  Now, now, now,” she begged, trying
to draw him along with her.  

“Aeryn?” he called out to her in a whisper, not asking for permission, but somehow confirming that she was
there, with him, ready to enjoy the moment in tandem.  

“Yes, John.  Yes.”  She grasped him roughly by both sides of the head and kissed him, tongues intertwining no
different than the rest of their bodies.  He sighed against her cheek, and they came together.  

It was like being fused to another being, two nervous systems merging into one.  Her own spastic clenching
goading the hot pulsing within, his long groan of release harmonizing with her higher-pitched sighs and nearly
inaudible cries, the soft nudge of his balls, pressure of her breasts against his chest, the hard, flat slab of his
stomach as he froze in the momentary rigor of ejaculation, and her own shuddering response, the vibrations
pounding against his motionless body.  

John was the first to relax, slumping against her with a whispered, “Good God.”  

Aeryn spun down more slowly, draping herself over his shoulder in stages, leaning into his strength and letting
him support her.  “Did we do it?” she asked after several microts.

“Do what?” he sighed into her shoulder.

“Frell our brains out?”  He was rubbing her back, the bandages creating an odd muffled sensation where there
was supposed to be the easy slide of warm skin.  It wasn’t unpleasant; only different.  

“Definitely.  Might have lost a little more than my brains on that one.”  John eased her legs out from behind him
one by one, then laid back, pulling her down on top of his chest.  “Warm enough?”  

“Mmhm,” she hummed her answer.  He was keeping her warm, his body heat radiating into her from nose to
toes.  

The slow caresses up and down her back hadn’t ceased.  His other arm was wrapped around her lower back,
hugging her to him.  The holding and the petting wasn’t unusual for John, but it was continuing longer and with
more emphasis than usual.  She loved him more than she ever would have thought possible, but after all their
cycles together, he still loved her in ways that she couldn’t begin to fathom.  It had taken her almost too long to
learn that an ability to love the way John did was a form of strength, not weakness.  It made him vulnerable at
times, but it compensated by giving him unequalled focus and motivation.  She understood that now, even if
she couldn’t always match it.  

“I’ll release you from the vows.”  She hadn’t thought about it.  The decision was simply there -- an impulse.  

John didn’t answer at first.  He glanced at her, then reached for a pillow and took an inordinate amount of time
getting it tucked behind his head so he could look at her without strain.  

“What set that off?” he asked.

“Thinking about who you are and what motivates you,” she explained.    

He watched her for nearly one hundred microts, then shook his head.  “No, we’ll let the vows stand.”  

It was Aeryn’s turn to be confused.  Using his method of stalling in order to give herself time to think, she leaned
to one side to snare a thermal sheet, then recovered a pillow.  By the time she’d come to the conclusion that
she didn’t understand John after all, she had the pillow tucked under her chin, still lying on top of John, with the
thermal sheet pulled over both of them.  

“Explain,” she said at last, baffled by his refusal to accept her offer.  

“You were right about me making hard decisions, Aeryn.  At the end of the game, I want all the marbles, not just
half of them.  If something like today happens again, I’ll do exactly what you said.  I’ll stand there dreaming up
some half-baked plan that only works if you’ve got the A-Team to pull it off …”  He held up a hand before she
could complain about the portions that didn’t make any sense.  “I’ll get desperate, and do something stupid,” he
summarized.  

“You do that even when you’re not desperate.”  

“Thanks so much.”  Aeryn smiled at him in silent response to the note of sarcasm in his voice.  “No, Aeryn.  
We’ll keep the vows, I’ll go on hating them, and in the meantime, I’ll spend lots of time figuring out ways to never
get stuck in a situation where I get held to my promise ever again.”  

“Motivation,” she concluded.  “For coming up with more hidden rooms and safeguards.”  

“Safeguards for all of us -- not just for Ian, and not just for you and me.  All of us.  Pilot and Moya and D’Argo,
and everyone on board.”  

“You think you can keep everyone safe?  John Crichton, Scourge of the Uncharted Territories is going to turn
into some sort of all-powerful protector of the down-trodden?”  The question was delivered in a gentle tone that
belied the mocking choice of words.  

“No, I know I can’t keep everyone safe.  But I can try.”  He gave her a devious grin that promised bizarre plans
and precautions, intricate warning signals, and peculiar codes to prevent anyone who might intercept their
transmissions from understanding the conversations.  “You go on being tough, and I’ll continue being the love-
sick human who will do almost anything to protect his family and friends.  Deal?”  

“Deal,” she agreed happily.  Aeryn snuggled more comfortably into his embrace, and went to sleep with the light
touch of John’s hand on her back, keeping her safe though the night.


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