In Need Of Sunlight
(First posted January 5, 2004)
Rating:  High-end R (Smut-Lite).  
Category:  Alternate Universe.  
Disclaimer: Not mine.  No profit.
Spoilers/Time Frame: No spoilers to speak of because this is AU.
Beta-reader:  Scrubschick.  I probably I owe her chocolate this time.  I’m such a bitch when it comes to having
someone critique my stories.  But I put most of what she suggested into the story.  Any remaining omissions,
confusions, and errors are all mine.       

*  *  *  *  *

The blind man staggers down the alley.  Bare toes stub against debris, wade through the rotting food,
showering up stinking hailstorms as he stumbles, catches himself on something that feels like a trash can, and
moves forward more cautiously.  It smells familiar, leading him toward the haven he’d found by accident two
nights earlier.  The mocking calls of the children, accompanied by the staccato impact of rocks being thrown,
had driven him in here, crashing about, trying to protect his head with his arms.  Crawling into a corner, lying
huddled into a ball, he had deprived them of their sport and they’d drifted away, disappointed.  That was when
he had found the tiny cave.  

He gropes his way along the familiar route:  past the sweet stench of something slick and gooey underfoot,
across the alley, barely as wide as he is tall, to the furry, squelching moss in the cold shadow of the building,
then two steps forward through the warmth of the steam vent.  Tonight it smells of warm grease, fried food,
roasting meat, overlain by cooking vegetables.  His stomach grumbles.  It’s been two days since he’s had
anything to eat.  It had been midday, with the sun beating warm and comfortable on his shoulders when
someone, perhaps taking pity on him, had shoved half a loaf of some sort of filled bread and a half-empty bottle
of raslak into his hands.  He’d wolfed it down in under ten microts, worried that someone else might come along
and take it away.  

They have stolen his boots.  He remembers lacing thick, supportive leather that grasps his ankles with
comfortable security.  It may have been the children, but he thinks they were taken before that.  There’s a
fragmented impression of a fight, of something happening -- that’s where the limited recall of his confused life
begins.  Throughout every poorly remembered event, his feet have been cold.  They ache constantly, refusing
to be warmed by his equally chilled fingers no matter how often he rubs them.  They are cut and bruised.  
There is no way to keep the lacerations clean, and there is an odd warm streak crawling up his calf that he
thinks might be something going wrong from one of the injuries.  

If they would leave him alone for a day or two, there’s a chance he could remember where he is from and how
to get home.  Until then, there’s only his refuge in the wall at the back of the alley and his permanent darkness.  
It resides both inside and outside his head.  He thinks maybe if he could sit in the sun without being bothered
for a few arns, the thick feeling inside his head might evaporate and he would remember.  He misses the sun.  
He’s always cold no matter how tightly he wraps his arms around his body.

But sunlight means being out in the open and that always brings the jeers and the cruelty.  So he hides and he
waits, trying to remember.      

It’s getting late.  He can tell by the drop in temperature and the increase in noise on the street.  The
refreshment houses are filling with patrons.  Laughter and the clinking of crockery and utensils float out through
the ventilation shafts.  He’s almost there.  If he can get to the niche in the wall, where the masonry has fallen
away to leave a hole just big enough for him if he curls up tightly, there’s a good chance he’ll make it through
the night without becoming some drunken fool’s sport.  

A door rumbles open, loosing a wave of warm air.  Open doors mean angry voices, thrown objects, abuse.  Two
long steps carry him to the other side of the alley, risking disorientation if means getting away from whoever is
there.  His legs get tangled in something rope-like, can’t pull loose in time, and he topples to one side,
smashing and crashing into a pile of containers.  Bonging and bouncing they avalanche down, carrying him with

Grumbling, angry words.  Fast steps.  He’s pulled to his feet, yanked out of the midst of the mayhem he’s
created, and pummeled about the shoulders and head in time with a stream of unintelligible phrases.  He
assumes it is profanity.  There’s no way to tell.  He doesn’t understand their words.  

It’s part of what has gone wrong inside his head.  His mumbled epithets have meaning; his own cries of anger
and frustration make sense.  The roars, hiccups, and garbles that swim around from morning until he falls into
another exhausted, confused slumber carry nothing more than the speaker’s emotions.  The meaning of their
words has deserted him, as has sight and memory.  He doesn’t remember how he got here, or where he came
from, and since he doesn’t understand what they’re saying, no one can tell him.  

There are fragmented memories of warmth, other people around him, and laughter.  That last one visits him
most frequently.  He remembers the gut aching fatigue of laughing until he can’t breathe, the bubbling flow of
giggles, smaller snorts of humor, and day-long smiles that he associates with one person’s presence.  Her face
refuses to be summoned during his waking hours.  She visits him in his sleep, her voice talking to him low and
soft, generating wondrous hair-raising chills along his spine that are gone before he can wake.  

The bludgeoning increases to a furious hammering, then he’s jerked violently from side to side until he doesn’t
know which way is which, and he’s propelled into nothingness, hands outstretched to break his fall.

“Prubackto!” someone barks in a deep, snarling voice, followed by the sizzling crack of a weapon.  

He winds into the smallest ball possible, squirms to one side until he finds a wall, and tucks himself in against it,
hoping that the impending battle will pass him by.  Fistfights and thrown rocks aren’t lethal, and sometimes, if
his attacker gets close, he gets in a punch or two of his own.  Weapons are different.  He can’t see where
they’re pointing, or determine if whatever is being fired is lethal.  Duck and cover is the only thing that makes
sense in a world empty of reason.  

There is no wild escalation of weapons fire, no hot singe of a pulse blast.  The door slides shut with a crack,
shutting off the tide of warm air, and the alley is quiet except for an odd whine hovering somewhere above his

“Sit up,” someone says.  The words don’t sound quite right, as though the speaker is unfamiliar with the two
small syllables, but it’s the first thing anyone has said to him that sounds like real words.  “Sit up,” the voice
repeats.  He unwinds, wondering, and doesn’t fight when the hands pull him upright.  

There’s a hard stinging punch against his bare ankle, and the world seems to shake itself, realigning certain
portions of what passes for reality.  The voice from his dreams speaks to him.  “Those were translator
microbes, John.  Can you understand me?”  

“Yeah.”  He waits for the rest of his universe to make sense.  It doesn’t get any better.  It gets worse, as a
matter of fact.  There are voices all around him, chattering, talking, arguing.  Although each of the words makes
sense, no two pieces fit together.  The chaos makes his head spin.

One voice rises out of the confusion.  “D’Argo, hold him.”  

Huge hands, like the ones that grabbed him several nights ago and tried to do something perverted to him,
grab on to his shoulders.  He fights them, thinking that maybe the others are here because they want to watch.  
He’d been able to fight his attacker off the other night.  He isn’t so lucky this time.  They have him sitting down,
pressing down on him, holding him in place.  There’s no way he can squirm out from under the strength of that

“Listen to me.  Listen!”  A strong hand, familiar beyond any explanation he can summon, grabs his chin and
turns his face upward toward the source of the voice.  “Listen to me.  Concentrate on breathing, nothing else.  
This is going to hurt, but it will fix everything.  Just breathe, John.  It will be over quickly.”  

His head is released.  Whoever is behind him holds his shoulders more tightly.  

There is a quick slamming punch against both sides of his neck at the same time, biting deep.  A chill dives
deep into his throat, builds there for a moment like a compacting snowball, then explodes outward into every
cell of his body.  

Tabasco, cayenne pepper, hot mustard, jalapenos, onions, and vinegar.  Mix them together, blend until smooth
and then add a cupful of gasoline.  Swallow it down and ignite it.  

There isn’t enough time for him to dream up the recipe before the agony strikes; just the same, he is certain
that is what they have injected into his bloodstream.  The fireball flares into life somewhere a dench or two
behind his eyes.  After incinerating his brain, it moves into his sinuses, attacks the back of his throat, crawls into
his ears, and finally plunges down into his chest.  Crichton gags, nearly vomits, and pulls desperately against
the hands holding him in place.  Two sets of hands are there, keeping him from tipping over, but also keeping
him from getting away.  They tilt him forward so the tears, mucus, and saliva can run free, one strong hand
devoted to steadying his head.  

“Breathe.  Keep breathing,” he is reminded.

He takes in a breath and gags it back out again.  His ears are on fire from the inside out, and what is happening
to his sinuses is beyond description.  

“Breathe,” the voice says one more time.  “It should start to ease in a microt.”  

“What the frell was that?” he gasps.  

“Antidote.  Give it a few more microts.  Hang on.”

She talks him through the final burst of discomfort, and, as promised, the firestorm fades away.  He fumbles one
shaking hand up to his face and wipes away some of the tears.  The grip on his shoulders relaxes, and a quiet
rustle says that someone is sitting or kneeling beside him.  A wet cloth wipes his face, cleaning away more of
the streaming results of whatever they have given him.  

“How’s that?”  

He looks at the woman kneeling next to him, and something inside his head seems to melt.  The confusion and
lack of memory liquefy and drain away, leaving clarity in its wake.  She’s beautiful and he remembers her.  
There is a line of poetry that does justice to this moment.  He touches her cheek with one dirt-blackened finger
and butchers the quote to serve his own purpose.  “But soft, what light in yonder window breaks?  It is the east,
and Aeryn is the sun.”  

“He’s raving,” Rygel says.  “Your supposed antidote didn’t work.”  

It had been the Dominar who had found him moments earlier and scared away his attacker.  It had been the
quiet whine of Rygel’s throne sled he had heard hovering over him, guarding him until Aeryn and D’Argo could
catch up.   

“Raving is a permanent condition for Crichton,” D’Argo says.  “He must be back to normal.”

“Are you all right now?” Aeryn asks, ignoring the other two.  

“Yeah.  I think so.”  He wipes away more of the tears, still feeling like he has bitten into the Godzilla of all
jalapenos, and can’t stop shaking.  He looks at the smear of tears and mucus on the back of his hand.  
“BLOOD?!!  I’m bleeding!  Aeryn, where am I bleeding?”  

“No!  It’s not blood.  It’s the antidote, John.  The enzymes are going turn some of your body fluids different
colors for a few days.”  

He laughs, feeling even shakier than he did two microts before, and accepts their help getting to his feet.  
“What did I get hit with?”  

No one answers right away.  Aeryn guides a narrow-necked flask into his hands, ignoring the imbedded dirt and
bits of unidentifiable sludge clinging to his fingers.  He sniffs, identifies one of the goopy high-protein syrups
she thinks is a suitable replacement for a meal, and for once, gulps it down willingly.  More than half slithers
down his chin before she can steady his shaking grip, adding to the existing mess on the front of his coat.  Now
he’s not only dirty and smells bad, he’s sticky as well.  “Gech.”  He hates the consistency, and there aren’t
words to describe the taste.  


His gas tank had been empty.  His metabolism had been running on nothing but fumes, eating away his own
body weight in a self-cannibalizing effort to stay alive.  His stomach lurches, makes one half-hearted attempt to
eject the unaccustomed calories, and then settles down and starts to burn the much-needed fuel.  The
remaining fog of starvation starts to dissipate.  “Yeah.  I could use an extra large pizza with the works, but that
helps.”  He nods once and repeats his unanswered question.  “What did this to me?”  

He knows half the answer.  It had been a bar fight, one that they should have had no part in.  Two of the local
inhabitants had started it, and before they could get out of the building, everyone in the room had joined in.  
Separated from Aeryn and the others by the melee, he’d been making his way toward the door when someone
had flung liquid into his face.  The lights had gone out in more ways than simply being knocked

“It’s a poison made from watruka sap.  Aside from blinding the victim, it interferes with several other types of
brain chemistry.  For most species, it wears off after a few arns.”  

Once again, being the sole human on the far side of the universe has turned into a liability.  Aeryn knew exactly
how to treat the poison though.  “What does it do to sebaceans?” he asks, considering that familiarity.    

“Just what it did to you.  Aside from the blindness, it suffocates translator microbes, blocks memory, interferes
with reasoning --”

“Who can tell the difference when Crichton is involved?” Rygel interjects.  

John looks down at himself, assesses the layers of dirt and stinking filth, and punishes Rygel the best way he
can think of considering where he’s been living for the past few days.  He hugs the hynerian.  “Good to see you
too, Guido.”

D’Argo laughs and steps aside, making room for them to leave the alley.  “Transport pod isn’t very far away.  
Can you walk?”

Everyone has backed away from him as if he is carrying the Karatonga Plague.  Crichton inhales carefully and
decides they might have the right idea.  He is seven or eight degrees beyond ‘foul’.  “Yeah, if it means getting
the hell out of here, I can walk to Timbuktu and back.”  He’s still shaking from the antidote, the conflagration
inside his ears hasn’t quit, his nose is running, and his feet hurt.  It’s the best he has felt in several days.  “Let’s

Despite their initial retreat, Aeryn and D’Argo are right there to steady him when he stumbles, and all three
remain close by the entire short journey to the transport pod.  

*  *  *  *  *


Resting both forearms on the top of the half-height shower partition, Aeryn watches him lather his chest for the
third time.  The first head-to-foot scrubbing removed the worst of the revolting layer coating his body; the
second managed to wash away most of the ground-in dirt.  Now he’s trying to get rid of the stink.  

“You hide very well,” she says.  

It’s a comment from out of his past, one he doesn’t expect to hear at this particular moment, not when she’s
tilting her head to one side in order to peek at him when he raises one leg to wash his lower leg.  “What do you

“We spotted you twice.  You disappeared both times before we could catch up with you.  You haven’t lost your
talent for hiding.”  She beckons, gesturing behind him.  John leans against the partition, hands her the soapy
washball, and lets her scrub his upper back.  The leviathan-grown washballs are a cross between a loofah and
a sponge; the harder she scrubs, the firmer and more abrasive it becomes.  Aeryn presses hard against his
shoulders and it feels like she is scouring the skin off his body.  He leans into her efforts.  It feels wonderful.  It
feels like he is finally getting clean.  

“How long?”  

“Five planetary days.”  

He remembers most of it in a dream-like manner:  vague impressions of cold, hunger, confusion, and the desire
to sit quietly in the sun without being bothered by anyone.  A great deal of those five days has been lost forever
to the poison that had stolen his ability to think clearly.

“You’ll have to do the rest,” she says, “I can’t reach any lower.”  

The washball tumbles down his chest.  He catches it and turns to look at her.  “You could reach lower if you
came in with me.”   

“Scrub,” she orders, pointing to his legs.  “You smell like dren.”  

When they had suggested he leave his clothes behind on the planet, he’d agreed without so much as a split-
microt’s hesitation.  He’d stripped down to his shorts, heaved the bundled mass of ruined clothing out the hatch,
and gratefully accepted one of the golden thermal sheets from Aeryn.  The brief journey back to Moya had
been spent dozing in a corner, small bits and pieces of the conversation drifting surreally through the snatches
of sleep.    

“That’s infected,” Aeryn says, pointing to his foot.  Now that his vision has been restored, the odd-feeling area
on his calf turns out to be a red streak running from a gash near his anklebone.

“Take care of it later.”  He wants lots of hot food and endless arns of sleep -- he hasn’t made up his mind in
what order.  Little things like infections can wait.

“I’ve got something for it.  We suspected you might be a little battered.  Put your foot up here.”  

He considers the height of the partition, eyes where Aeryn is standing and what she is looking at, and then
leans back against the wall and props his foot up where she can reach it.  She still isn’t looking at his ankle.  He
squirts some cleanser into the washball, squishes it around to build up some lather, and begins washing his
stomach.  With one leg raised like the world’s most awkward ballet dancer, there’s only one place for the suds
and hot water to go.  Aeryn isn’t moving; she seems transfixed by the flood of bubbles.  Or maybe she’s simply
amused.  He decides it’s time to focus on something else.  

“I thought you were going to fix that,” he says, jerking his head at his foot.  

Aeryn disappears out of sight for a microt, then comes up with a small container of a clear liquid and a small
wad of cloth.  With a certain amount of trepidation building inside his chest, he watches her soak the
applicator.  Every medical remedy over the past several cycles has either hurt like hell, or turned out to be
magnificently hallucinogenic.  Tonight, he’ll put his money on ‘hurt like hell’.   

Aeryn sets the container down and grabs his ankle.  “Ready?”  She doesn’t give him time to answer.    

“Crap!”  He yanks his foot out of her reach, nearly tips over, hops around the shower for several moments
rubbing what feels like a shaft of ice crawling up the blood vessels of his leg.  In the end, he over-balances and
goes sprawling under the floods of hot water.  John props his damaged ankle on his thigh and gently massages
where it feels like he’s got an icicle lodged in his calf.  “Isn’t there anything in this universe that doesn’t hurt?”  

“A few things.”  Aeryn has joined him at last.  She kneels beside him, water streaming from her hair, and
retrieves the washball.  “Your feet are filthy.”  

“I can’t see the bottoms.  How would I know?”  It’s a lame excuse, but it’s also the only thing he can come up with
at the moment.  She is scrubbing behind his toes and, aside from the excitement of watching the water sheet
over her body, that particular spot is one he finds incredibly erotic.  Aeryn glances at him and shakes her
head.  “Your toes.  Washing your toes excites you.”  

He tries to redirect her attention away from what the scrubbing is doing to him.  Having something so innocent
affect him this way is embarrassing.  “It’s you that excites me.”  If he were tempted to tell the truth, which he
isn’t, he would admit that it is the two streams of water spattering onto the shower floor, following the
movements of her breasts, that is getting him even more wound up than the slow, warm massage of his feet.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on that ankle to make sure it doesn’t get worse.”  She lifts his leg to take a closer
look at the gash, nods once, satisfied with whatever she’s seeing, and puts it down.  “Get up.  I’ll finish washing
your back.”  

“I want to wash you.”  

He loves taking showers with Aeryn.  Her skin slides easily beneath soapy hands.  He is constantly consumed
by her contours, the firmness of her muscles, the resiliency of the soldier’s body.  She’s powerful, something
that he never would have considered sexy until he met Aeryn.  She’s a willing and strong partner, one that
delights in being able to detach his brain from the inside of his skull -- at least that’s what it feels like whenever
he’s so caught up in being with her that he can’t even think straight.  

“Later.  After we’re done cleaning you.”  She sniffs his chest, nods with satisfaction, and then moves on to
check his throat and shoulders.  Aeryn seems to be checking to make sure he tastes good too, because she’s
not just sniffing anymore.  Her lips drift up to the spot beneath his right ear while soapy fingers work their way to
the left, and he closes his eyes and concentrates on the drifting touches against both sides of his neck.  
Remarkably, despite the steaming hot water that continues to crash down over them, a chill runs up his spine,
goading his skin into goosebumps.  Aeryn is barely touching him and he’s on the verge of an unprovoked

“Turn around.”  It jolts him out of his reverie and draws him back from the edge.  “Something here still needs
some attention.”  

A deep breath helps get a few of his physical reactions back under control.  “Yes, but it’s in front of my body,
not behind it.”  

Her quiet laugh is barely audible over the rush and gurgle of the water.  “You smell awful.  Now turn around!”  

This time he does as he’s told, braces his arms against the wall, and closes his eyes.  Down deep, he is
exhausted.  It’s the type of bone-deep weariness that will require several nights of sound sleep to overcome;
the sort of draining fatigue that makes original thoughts scarce, witty comebacks a struggle, and turns physical
exertion into an insurmountable obstacle.  It robs him of the capacity to ignore the seemingly random caresses
that accompany her neck-to-heels scrubbing.  A quick touch here, a firmer stroking there, a slow rubbing at the
base of his spine, the light swipe of her fingers across the back of one knee, and the likelihood of a solo
performance returns.

“Aeryn --”

She presses her nose against his spine and inhales, checking one more time.  He’s declared acceptable with a
simple, “That’s better.”   

Her arms encircle him, all pretense of bathing him abandoned.  She kisses the back of his neck and leans
against him, her body pressed up against his, the water rushing down their joined surfaces, bursting loose into
a freefall plunge onto their feet.  Her hands are soapy-slick, sliding easily, creating just the right amount of
pressure.  It doesn’t take long for the warmth, Aeryn’s enveloping presence, and the frictionless motion to
accomplish what is intended.  The first gut-loosening surge hits him, precursor to a climax.  He grabs at her
hands, fumbles, misses, and then latches on, pulling them away.  

“Stop, stop,” he pants.  “Not yet.”  It is almost too late.  Aeryn, blessedly, waits for him to recover.  He uses the
list he once suggested to D’Argo:  baseball, math, isosceles triangle, gravel, rusty razor blades.  It isn’t helping.  
He works his way through skinned knees, chipped teeth, and the memory of getting kneed in the mivonks by
Chiana, and finally manages to get himself under control.

“Problem?” she asks into his ear.  As usual, she is laughing at him, gleefully celebrating the effect she has on

“Together.  Don’t do this to me.”  He turns inside her embrace to face her, runs his hands through the soaked
mass of her hair, pushing it away from her face, and leans down the short distance to kiss her.  Aeryn is tall
enough that it is an easy motion; it’s one of the small details that he loves about her.  He doesn’t need to
accommodate her, or worry that he’s being too rough.  Vigorous or gentle, it doesn’t matter.  She meets him as
an equal, sometimes asking that he progress more slowly, sometimes taking the lead and demanding far more
effort than he would have normally exerted on his own.   

“What’s going on?” she says into his lips.  

The simple thought of Aeryn’s body intertwined with his, meeting him equally no matter how they’ve chosen to
proceed, has brought him to the crest of another unprovoked release.  He’s fighting to control the impulse, and
she has felt him changing position to avoid any more contact.  

“Must be the antidote.  It’s making me a little volatile tonight.”  

“Volatile,” she repeats.  Aeryn leans away so she can look at him, one eyebrow twitching up in combined humor
and derision.  She reaches between their bodies, no longer soapy fingers generating more friction, and he
buries his head in the side of her necks and tries to stop thinking about what she’s doing to him.  “Isn’t volatile
your middle name?”

“John Robert Volatile … oh god … Crichton, J-j-junior,” he pants.  

It gets to be too much.  Aeryn’s arm is around his back and shoulders, fingers stroking him beneath his ear, her
other hand moving with equal purpose.  Her lips are against his, refusing to leave him for an instant, her
exhaled breaths sliding warmly along his cheek, and his world devolves into warm water and her body playing
his like she owns it.  The first nervous frisson hits him, the last warning signal he ever gets, and he pushes
away from her and stumbles to the other side of the shower.  One hard slap against the controls shuts the
water off before Pilot can interrupt them to complain about the waste, and then he has time to bend over,
recover, and think about payback.  

“John Robert Volatile Oh God Crichton?” Aeryn asks, laughing at him again.  

She seems to be enjoying this pleasurable torture far too much.  He thinks about the last five days, and about
concern and the frustration of not being able to catch up to someone that he knows is in trouble, and about
loss, worry, love, and relief.  In less than two microts, his focus switches from his own out-of-control physiology
to Aeryn and her uncharacteristic levity.  He crosses the small enclosure in one long step, thumps her back
against the wall with a hard shove, and doesn’t allow her enough time to take over.  He knows without being told
that she needs love and proximity tonight; the worry of the past few days can be banished by the presence of
his body, heavy tactile reminders that he is uninjured and safely back aboard Moya.  

Aeryn throws herself willingly into their union.  Some nights she wants arns of foreplay.  This isn’t one of them.  
One cautious thrust, making sure he doesn’t hurt her, she wraps her legs around him in an embrace he hopes
he never has to equal, strong and limber beyond anything he can manage, and they sigh together.   

Her arms press hard on the tops of his shoulders; her weight is an easy burden where he holds her buttocks.  
They become one for a time, working in perfect partnership, a wordlessly coordinated effort of kisses, caresses,
sliding friction, warmth and engulfment, building pressure and hot pulsing breaths, whispers and exhorted
encouragement.  Snatches and flashes of sensation wash over him.  Moments of Aeryn’s fingers digging into
his shoulder, of the taste of her skin when he nips lightly along the underside of her throat, of her fingers
running through his wet hair and then gripping a fistful tightly so she can turn his head up to meet her lips.  She
breathes out a complaint -- something about the wall of the shower and her back.  There is a wild, staggering
journey to their bed, a fast glance to make sure the curtains are closed, and then he presses her body tightly to
his and lets them crash down together onto the soft surface.  

Wild and strenuous, tender and gentle, they explore every facet, every familiar surface and nerve ending, a
celebration of being together.  The crescendo builds, driven upward on panting breaths, arching muscles,
frenzied grips, and hot-breathed vows of love and desire, until neither one can wait any longer.    

Quiet whimpering cries, he doesn’t know if it is him or her, arms and legs fighting for dominance until he’s not
quite sure where his body ends and hers begins, a deep bass-throated groan that he doubts Aeryn could
produce, an endlessly warm grasp driving the last hints of cold out of his body, ecstatic spasmodic contractions,
and his nervous system goes berserk.  His life becomes a single organ and the warm release.  John spins back
to the mundane surroundings of their chamber, exhausted, drained, and happy beyond description.  Aeryn is
shuddering out the final tremors of her ultimate excitement, flushed, smiling, grayish eyes glowing with that
special smoldering look that is reserved for when they are together like this.  

A small trickle of sweat wanders from her temple into her water-soaked hair.  He thumbs it away and ducks
down to kiss her.  They are both dripping wet, as are the covers on the bed.  There had been no time for idiotic
things like towels and drying off.  

“Oh lord,” he groans.  He aches in a good way.  Sleep needs to come first, food will have to wait.    

“That was sort of nice.”  Aeryn tucks an arm behind her head and smiles up at him.  It’s more of her teasing.  

He plays along.  “I’ll try to do better next time.”  If he does any better, he’ll almost certainly have either a heart
attack or a stroke -- possibly both.  

She rubs his buttocks for a few microts, presses his hips into hers, and then sighs.  She has the sleepy,
satiated look that says they had done much better than simply ‘nice’.  He props his head up on his hand, shifts
to one side to take some of his weight off her, and stares down into her eyes.  There doesn’t seem to be
anything to say at this point.  

“Tired?” Aeryn asks.  

“A bit.”  If he was bone-tired a short time ago, now he’s absolutely exhausted.  But it’s in the way that promises
dreamless sleep, motionless unconsciousness for arns, and waking up feeling as though someone has
supercharged his batteries.  It’s a good feeling.    

“I’m getting warm.”  

Her understated comment means that his body heat is too much for her sebacean physiology, a familiar
problem and easily resolved.  He wraps his arms around her and rolls them over so Aeryn is lying on top of
him.  They squirm about for several moments, finding the familiar, comfortable position that consists of her lying
with her head on his shoulder, thermal sheet pulled over the lower half of their bodies.  She stays cool and
keeps him warm.  It’s a match made in heaven.

He is half-asleep by the time she snorts a brief laugh into his chest.  “What?” he asks.  

“What color do you think it is?”  

John has to think for a few microts to figure out what she is asking.  He stares up at Moya’s arcing ceiling, his
hand drifting up and down her back, and finally works it out.  Aeryn is referring to what the enzymes from the
antidote are doing to him.  So far his urine is an odd greenish-blue, he spits purple, and when he sneezed
shortly after returning to Moya, the results were a very ugly shade of orange.  God knows what the enzymes
have done to one other bodily fluid.

“Gold,” he theorizes, trying to come up with something that sounds impressive and masculine.

She catches on too quick.  “Probably a muddy brown … or pink.”  

He never should have explained about the Earth tradition of blue for boys, pink for girls.  She turns it against
him all too often.  “Navy blue,” he counters.  

“No color at all.”  

“Rainbow stripes.”  

That sets her to laughing again, and they go to sleep that way -- to the sound of increasingly random whispers,
small chuckles and snorts of laughter, and finally nothing but sighs of contented happiness.  

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