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On the Inside
A Farscape Short Story by Tina Price

Preview: During a painful moment Crichton makes a shocking discovery and finds that company eases misery.

Spoiler Alert: "The Way We Weren't" and "DNA Mad Scientist"

Disclaimer: Farscape, all characters and images therein, as well as story elements put forth in the series are the property of Hallmark Entertainment, Henson Productions and Nine West.

Authors notes: This is a stand alone story which occurs shortly after the events witnessed in "The Way We Weren't" Once again, many thanks go out to my Beta reader, Janet Spruill White. You can drop her a line, at this address: (lablanche@yahoo.com).

On the Inside
Aeryn Sun and Pilot
The above image is the property of Hallmark Entertainment, Henson Productions and Nine West Australia.

        The name escapes me, despite my resolve to be strong - to allow her to do what she feels she must.

        She pauses in her rapid march towards the shuttle bay. For a moment she seems indecisive and then she drops her gear and turns towards me. In just a microt she's in my arms, kissing me, holding me so tightly that I feel bruised.

        Finally she tears her mouth away. "We've already done this," she whispers, pain evident in her lowered voice. "Please, John... let me go."

        With a nod, my arms fall to my sides. They feel as heavy as lead. She's right. This has to be done and she's the one to do it. We've already said our good-byes many times over. I have to make this easier for both of us.

        Swallowing the lump in my throat, I manage to make eye contact again and am surprised by the tears forming in her eyes. She does love me, I know. I'd be a fool not to see the misery written all over her, threatening to bow her over - to break her.

        With a shaky smile I sigh. "You'll come back to me," I manage to choke out. "I know you will. Just be careful. Don't take chances. Without you..."

        Here my voice fails me and trails off.  I know I can't risk even one word more.

        "However long this takes, I promise you I'll be back John," she vows. "But I also swear that Talyn will be with me when I return."

        I nod and hold out my hand. She takes it and starts to back away.

        Our fingers slip apart and then she has snatched her gear and broken into a run, vanishing around the curved corridor in just seconds... er, microts.

        It is only after I have made my way back to my chamber that I realize that she wasn't headed directly for the cargo bay.




        I watch as she approaches me and despite myself, my hearts skip erratically.
        She's crying, her grief erupting in torrents of salty fluid which leaks from her blue-gray eyes.
        Only once before have I seen her in such a state and the knowledge that she has actually come to me in torment and grief fills me with an elation which also brings pain.
        How can I, of all creatures, be worthy of such an honor? What does she see in me which allows her to open herself to me?
        It doesn't matter. I find myself quivering as I hold two of my arms out to her...
        In just a moment, she has thrown herself against the console which surrounds me and I lift her effortlessly over it, pressing her to my side.
        She is so small, so frail compared to my kind and I find myself trembling even as her small, smooth hands cling to me and she begins sobbing loudly.
        "Aeryn... Aeryn..." I whisper, trying to console her. I rock her slowly and speak in my own tongue. I know she cannot understand what I say, but the tone of my voice is what matters.
        It soothes her even as her presence here soothes me.
        After a while, her crying ceases and she gulps repeatedly as her body attempts to calm itself. Soon she lies still against me and for a few moments I believe she has fallen asleep.
        I find myself filled with a tenderness which astounds me.
        I, who have traveled the stars for three cycles...
        I, who have known the joy and rapture of living as a part, an extension of Moya, a living ship...
        I, who should be content with what I have...
        I... I have never known such joy and peace as I feel whilst embracing this female of a completely different species.
        We both carry such pain within us - such scars and guilt...
        Even if she did not accidentally share some of my genetic code, we would be drawn to one another.  I know it!
        As my thoughts run amuck, she stirs and lifts a hand to stroke my cheek.
        Ah... that I could hold her here against me forever!
        "Pilot?" she asks in a quavering voice.
        "Yes?" Mine is just as unsteady.
        "I never noticed before, but you're so warm... Not at all like the bugs I used to fish out of my sleeping gear on the really run down ships."
        I snort with amusement. "I'm a bug then, am I?"
        She sniffs, and though her face is hidden from my view, I can imagine the smile which has appeared upon it.
        "No! Of course not!" she protests. "I just never noticed..."
        "That my flesh is warm?"
        She raps against my chest with her fist and the hard chitin which encases me makes a sharp, loud sound within my chamber.
        "Flesh?" she whispers.
        "It is a trivial thing," I reply. "We are not so different, you and I."
        She tightens her grip on me for a moment and then slowly pushes away.
        With a pang of regret, I realize that our time together is drawing to a close.  Mindful to ensure that she will not slide down my side to the deck so far below, I carefully place her upon my console.
        "The others are inquiring after you," I inform her. "They are becoming worried by the delay in your departure."
        This threatens to spill new tears, which she angrily wipes away with her fingers.
        "What is this about, Aeryn?" I ask. "It is Crichton, isn't it?"
        She sighs and finally meets my eyes. "I don't want to leave him... What's wrong with me? I've never felt this way before!" She stands upon the console and begins kicking at it.
        I know that she cannot damage it and so I allow her to vent her anger. In just a short while she forcefully exhales and settles back down.
        "You love him." It is not a question, but a statement.
        Her eyes turn to me, wide and utterly devoid of pretense. "I don't know how to love," she whispers. "I can't... I shouldn't!"
        Her words echo loudly, defiantly throughout my chamber as tears again track down her cheeks.
        Again I pull her to me. "If a pilot can come to love the Peacekeeper who killed his predecessor, then why cannot a Peacekeeper come to love a human?"
        "Love? You love me?" She sniffs and draws back, staring at me with wordless shock.
        "Yes," I say, somehow setting us both free by speaking of it. "No two beings aboard this ship are as alike as you and I. We were not prisoners, enslaved by others, but rather, prisoners of our own fears and ignorance. We have clawed our way out of the mental prisons which held us and found a new life - a new reason for living. We are not who we once were, Aeryn. We are on our way to becoming something much bigger, much better... And we have done so only with the love and support of those around us."
        "And each other," she whispers, stroking my cheek again.
        I close my eyes and shudder. "Yessss...." My voice trails off for a moment. "You love Crichton and it is plain to everyone aboard Moya that he loves you." I lift a claw and stroke her cheek in return. "What happened between you and Valorek was tragic, but, as I said, you are not who you once were..."
        She cuts me off, her voice breaking as she attempts to speak. "I killed him, Pilot! I loved him and yet I betrayed him just so that I could fly again!" She pushes my claw away and turns from me. "It would be best if I die before I can return," she whispers.
        "Aeryn!" I turn her gently back to face me. "I understand the all-consuming need to fly which you once felt. Do you think I know nothing of desire? To my eternal shame, I myself traded the life of the pilot who once sat here in the hope that my own desires would be fulfilled". I gently brush her hair back from her face as I continue, "I know what you are feeling because I have felt it and feel it still. It is regret, Aeryn and it is a bitter thing. However, we cannot undo what we have done. We can only learn from it and hope never to do such a thing again."
        She turns away from me once more and whispers, "That's just it, Pilot, I don't trust myself. Next time it could be John who is tortured and killed because of me".
        "You have risked your life time and again for John - for all of us!" I protest. "Over and over, you have dropped your own plans in favor of his. D'Argo has told me of the times you secretly bartered your own gear in order to purchase for him a food which was similar to his own native fare. How can you even think that you would betray him now? Why can't you trust yourself as we all trust you?"
        "Because at heart I am still a Peacekeeper," she snaps, as she spins around to face me. "It is a way of life that has been so deeply engrained into me that I do not know if I can ever truly be free of it. I cannot even trust myself! How can I ask any of you to trust me?"
        I grasp her upper arms and pull her forward so that we are staring into each other's eyes. "Aeryn, you WERE a Peacekeeper. Now you are one of us. We trust you. I trust you... It is time that you begin to trust yourself."
        She looks startled at first, then her eyes shut and a sigh escapes her.
        "It is what you do from this point forward that matters," I continue, as I gently nudge her away from me, then lift her down to the deck before my console. "Crichton is approaching. The others want to know what is wrong. It is time for you to go now."
        I wait.
        She leans forward and strokes my cheek one more time. "I'll see you soon," she promises and it is apparent to me that she had meant to say something else.
        "Your genetic tie to me will always allow you to find your way back to Moya," I say brusquely, knowing that I am now close to tears. "Go on Aeryn Sun - find Talyn and then return to us."
        Her smile is dazzling.
        Both her hands come up to frame my face. With an unexpected tug, she pulls my head towards her and leaning forward, kisses me on the cheek. In the next moment, she is running for the hatchway.
        Again my hearts flip flop and then they do it once more as I spy Crichton himself emerging from one of the access conduits. I had been sufficiently distracted from my DRD's not to note that he had chosen to make his entrance unconventionally.
        He had to have seen and heard at least some of what transpired.



        "So, Pilot, are you going to fill me in on what's going on?" I ask, as I approach the big lug. He seems suddenly very busy, his four arms moving fluidly as he manipulates his console. Still, he spares me a glance.
        "Eavesdropping does not become you, Crichton."
        I move in closer and duck around the back of the console to stand right next to him. Looking down so that I won't lose my footing on the narrow ledge, I catch a glimpse of his lower limbs twitching an entire deck below me and I'm reminded of just how huge Pilot really is.
        That's the thing about him - he's normally so gentle and giving that you forget that his head is about as big as your own torso, let alone that he takes up two tiers. If he wanted to, he could easily make mincemeat out of me.
        When I look back up, I find him regarding me with some interest.
        "What?" I ask.
        "Why do you not go with her?"
        "Because she won't allow me to," I sigh. Unable to help myself, I curl my hands into fists. With an effort, I release them and instead cross my arms before me.
        He sighs as well. "I should have guessed. She is more than capable of taking care of herself, though. She will return to us soon."
        "Sometimes even the strongest amongst us need someone else to shoulder their burdens for a while... or at least someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on..."
        Pilot nods. "Yes. I understand that perfectly."
        I place a hand on his back, between two of the huge armored plates near the base of what might be called a neck and he finally meets my eyes. "I know you do," I reply. "Pilot, I know that you and Aeryn share a bond, that you have ever since Namtar injected her with your genetic material. I just want you to know that I'm glad - for both of you."
        Is that relief I see in his expression? In any case, the corners of his mouth seem to be tugging upwards ever so slightly.
        "I am glad that you approve," he says, ducking his head down a bit so that our eyes are more on a level. "You have no cause for concern with regard to my relationship with Ms. Sun," he reassures me. "After all, she and I are most likely physically incompatible."
        My mouth gapes open as I take it in. Is Pilot making a "funny"? With some effort I manage to close my mouth. No, the big guy is serious. He apparently feels that I have reason to be concerned about him and Aeryn.
        "Are you telling me that you love her - as in 'LOVE' her?" I ask, disbelief entering my voice.
        His eyes continue to hold my own. "Is it so hard for you to believe that one such as I might aspire to such an emotion?"
        "Well, no... Yeah..." I stammer and stutter, trying to put together a coherent sentence. "It's just that I never thought of you having any strong emotion about anything other than your bond to Moya."
        He seems to slump then, his breath hissing out in another sigh. then his eyes turn back to me. "You must understand that nothing will ever surpass the wonder of being a part of Moya," he admits. "And yet, there is another life I have left behind in order to embrace this one. In my current state, I shall never know the tender touch of a mate, nor the love of children, but that does not mean that I cannot long for such things... and my bond with Moya is lacking the intensity that I was led to believe such a bond should have. I suspect that no pilot will ever share with Moya what she once had with her former pilot."
        I find myself ignoring most of the information I have just been given. "Then you really do love Aeryn - as in 'LOVE'," I state, feeling an unexpected surge of sadness well up within me.
        "Yes, I love Aeryn Sun," He admits, pulling himself back up to his full, majestic height. "When I talk with her, I am talking to an equal - someone whose inner scars parallel my own. I feel a great tenderness, a great affection for her. I wish to protect her, to hold her safe..."
        "And to have her touch you as well," I whisper. "This is more than the love one has for one's sister..."
        His eyes close and his arms still. For a moment I believe that he has completely shut down, but then his arms drop in defeat and his eyes open.
        They are full of emotion.
        "Yessss...." he finally admits. "If it were not for the wonders I see as Moya's pilot, I would be perfectly content to live out my life as you."
        "Trust me here - you don't want to be me," I choke out. Then, despite my shock over Pilot's revelation, I throw my arms about him and give him an awkward hug. My head is bumping up against the carapace which covers his head and I whisper close to his face, "We'll both look out for her then."
        He nods carefully, probably afraid of braining me.
        "Besides," I quip, "I'm not about compete with you for her. With my luck I'd lose!"
        He gently pushes me away and gives me a strange look. "How can you think such a thing?" he asks. "She is a Peacekeeper and no more able to love me than she could a pill bug."
        I nearly fall through the deck as I take a step backwards. "Pill bug? Where did you...?"
        "Aeryn once told me of the insects upon your world called pill bugs. I believe that you told her I reminded you of one?"
        "Uh... I said that way back - after our first meeting in the flesh, so to speak," I explain. "Believe me, you don't really look very much like a pill bug. Besides - Aeryn is an ex-Peacekeeper. Consorting with aliens no longer freaks her out."
        "Freaks out?"
        "Never mind that. It's just an Earth phrase. What I'm trying to say is that she sees you for WHO you are. She cares for you in a way which can and does make me jealous, Pilot, so you'd better not go breaking her heart or I'll have to whomp your ass. Wherever that might be located..."
        The big guy looked both confused, concerned and downright panicked. "She what?" he asked.
        "In her own way, she loves you."
        Drawing himself up even taller, he gestures at himself. "Look at me!" he says, derisively. "There's no way that she could..."
        I cut him off. "We humans have another saying... Actually, we have thousands of sayings, but this is one which you can bet Aeryn has already learned; It's what's inside that counts. Don't ever forget that Pilot."
        With that said, I turn and head for the hatchway out, unwilling to draw the conversation out any longer. Truly, I'm jealous of the tenderness Aeryn shows the big lug, but I figure that I'm still getting the best part of her. I know very well how she feels about me, and that is good enough. As for Pilot - I figure he needs some time to come to terms with the precious gift he has found.
        Call it the ultimate in friendship, call it an odd synchronicity, or simply call it unconditional love. Either way, he comes up as a big winner.
        And so do I. Pilot will protect her in ways I can't. Think of it - his duty is to Moya first and foremost, but then it is to us and most important on his list is Aeryn.
        Would you dare to go head to head with a Leviathan protecting its Pilot's interests?
        Nah. Didn't think so.



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