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<<Continued from page 2

************************************************************************

John cried out in pain. He thrashed against the chains then bowed his head. John mumbled, "Oh Godoh GodI'm sorry...I'm so sorry."

Scorpius grinned, his goal achieved. "My Godmy God AerynI" John choked on the lump in his throat forcing him to dry heave. Then his voice flared in anger. "NoNO, you frelling ass it's a lieyou're lying. You're frelling with my head." John spat into Scorpy's face.

Scorpius sneered and grabbed John's chin twisting it, forcing him to look at his blood stained hands. Dried blood was still stuck under his fingernails, a constant reminder of how he lost her. "Oh am I, John. The smell of blood," he inhaled deeply and tilted his head, "is not yours. She is still covering you." He lifted the bloodied shirt to John's face, smearing her blood onto his lips.

John moaned out. "NoNo" Scorpius tossed John back. His eyes widened and he jerked back then forth. "My Godshe never did leaveshe was here, before. It was her. It's herthat I still feel." John hung limply speaking in broken sobs. "I could always feel her without seeing her. Oh God, it's still her, she's here. But now, Oh God, she's gone, she's really gone." John coughed and tried to steady his voice. "Kill me. Please, just kill me now. Why? Why did you remind me? Huh? Why?" John paused waiting for an answer that did not come. "You sadistic bastard, answer me!"

"John, I want you to think."

John shook his head, "Nuh huh, No WAY! No more thinking. Closed for frelling remodeling."

"No, John. Are you sure that's what happened?" John's serious gaze met Scorpius's gleeful eyes. "Come now," John sobbed silently making no attempt to remember anything else. Scorpius raised John's tear stained face. He looked into the human's eyes with a gaze that penetrated to John's core. John tried to look away but was too weak to resist, "Think!"

************************************************************************

Chiana sat at the head of the table in the gallery, Aeryn at her right, D'Argo next to her; Zhaan on her left, Rygel next to her. Rygel was smoothly taking food cubes from the center and placing them in his cloak. Chiana spoke up against Rygel taking John's share. Rygel snapped back insisting on his superiority, and therefore, he should have more. D'Argo bounded across the table grabbing the Hynerian by the collar and pushed him away from the table, "Touch one more cube, and I'll blow you out the airlock."

A WHITE FLASH

Rygel hovered into John's room. He looked around nervously, making sure the room was unoccupied. Convinced he was alone, he hovered to John's bedside table. He took the cubes from his cloak, placing them on the table.

A WHITE FLASH

Chiana stood outside her quarters pulling on a leather strap. She squeaked in frustration, "Frellwhy do you have to be so stubborn?" With a final tug, she accomplished her task. The Hynerian Donkey strolled out of the cell as Chiana fell to the floor.

A WHITE FLASH

Aeryn stood in her quarters slightly leaning into her hip. She moved closer to the bed, licking her lips. Crais pounced from the shadows taking Aeryn to the bed, landing on top. She giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck, tracing down his back.

A WHITE FLASH

D'Argo and Scorpius held hands, skipped down the hall and sang "Tip Toethrough the Tulips."

************************************************************************

John's eyes bulged in a double take, "SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP!!!!!!" John blurted out, "What the FRELL was that?"

Scorpius sniffed then grinned. "Mmmm. So what now?"

John glared and looked up to see the stars. He lowered his eyes, blinked, and looked back. They were gone. "Gee, I don't know, Scorpyor is it Harvey." John struggled as hard as he could against the chains, but they didn't budge.

Scorpy snickered. "Oh come now, John. You have to try harder then that."

John pulled and pulled but the chains barely gave way. Then John heard a familiar voice calling him. "John." It was D'Argo. "JOHN!" John clung to that voice and pulled again. He felt the chains loosen but he was still bound. His wrists began to bleed.

John clenched his teeth, "Damn you, Harvey. LET! ME! GO!" With a final jerk the chains dislodged; John and the metal fell to the floor in a heap. He breathed heavily from the frustration and pain.

Scorpy lifted John's head to look into his eyes, "Good, John."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

John opened his eyes and blinked hard. He lay on his stomach on the Terrace facing the door. A large boot landed inches from his head. John looked up to see a very impatient Luxon. "John, did you collect all those crystals like I asked you?" John groaned but didn't move. D'Argo exhaled and turned to leave, "Who'm I kidding. I know that answer."

John sat up in a bolt. "Frell!" He looked at his hands: no blood. "AERYN." John pushed passed D'Argo and ran to Aeryn's quarters. He palmed the door and slowly stepped in. A long figure lay completely covered from head to toe with a gold sheet. John raced over and pulled the blanket off the figure.

Aeryn bolted up. "CRICHTON WHAT THE FRELL ARE YOU DOING?"

John bent within an inch of her face then stood straight. She slowly repositioned herself, her feet now on the floor. John moved his hand hesitantly, touching the skin on her knee. She's real'. He couldn't believe it. "Aeryn, you're Alive. I could KISS you!"

She stood matching his height, "Crichton, I was sleeping. I could KILL you!" She crossed her arms over her chest.

John put his right hand under his chin in the "Thinker" position, contemplating consequences. A grin spread across his face. He grabbed her, trapping her arms against his chest, pulling her as close as he could. "HmmmI think I'll take that risk." John ran his hands through her hair and rested at the back of her neck. He pushed his lips to hers, coaxing them to open. She tensed, relaxed, then responded. When she parted her lips, allowing him to deepen the embrace, he thought he was safeat least for now. When neither could breathe, he broke the kiss and sat her on the bed. He backed to the door, never leaving her eyes.

Her body tensed and eyes fired. He flashed a grin, attempting to calm her but with no success. She clenched her fists, "CRICHTON!" She pounced at his direction just as he darted down the corridor. "Get the frell back here!" She chased him down the corridor, following closely behind.

John ran into Pilot's den and dove behind his panel. "Commander Crichton, what"

John interrupted before Pilot could finish. "Look, Please Pilot." John breathed heavily. "Aeryn's after me. Just don't tell her I'm here." Pilot was about to question. "PLEASE, Pilotor you'll be cleaning pieces of me out of this system for cycles."

Just then, Aeryn crashed into the den, "WHERE IS HE?" She glowered at Pilot. "Where?"

Pilot understood John's reason for hiding. He knew that Aeryn's angry side was extremely dangerous and the DRDs had more important tasks than gathering bits of the Commander out of his panel. "Officer Sun, Rygel is in his quarters."

Aeryn approached the panel and slammed her fist onto it, bringing an involuntary gasp from John. "No, Crichton. Where is Crichton?"

Pilot responded, "Officer Sun, he is on the Terrace." Pilot silently wished Aeryn would leave, seeing the rage in her eyes. He feared for John. She paused then ran out of the den.

John waited and waited, convinced that Aeryn hadn't left. Pilot spoke, "It's alright, Commandershe is gone. What is wrong? Is everything alright?"

John wiggled out and jumped in front of the panel to stand in front of Pilot. He looked back nervously. "JeezI didn't think it would set her off like that." He looked at Pilot, "I mean, dren, all I did was scare the crap out of her, waking her up, kissed her as hard as I could, then left her standing there like --" John's eyes widened. "Oh." He snickered, "As they say in Peacekeeper Ebonics, We be frelled."

It took John half an arn, but he made it back to his quarters without being seen. He quickly entered, closed, and locked the door. He backed away a few steps, still staring at the door, waiting for the inevitable. "Damn Man! I was happy to see her. I couldn't help it. Was that so wrong?"

John turned around and found himself face to face with a very familiar Sebacean. Within microts, he was on the ground, completely immobilized and Aeryn on his chest in a very familiar position. "Now, Crichton. What the frell has gotten into you?"

John grinned. He struggled to breathe but also didn't really want her to move. "Oh you know, same old, same old. Little of this, little a that."

She thrust her hips into his chest forcing him to gasp in pain, "Wrong answer."

As it passed, he looked up into her stern gaze, "Hey uhm, Babes, if you're gonna want me to answer anythingyou'd best not do that." He grinned. "Cuz when you do my mind is so TOTALLY elsewhere."

Aeryn squeezed tighter, "What is it you say, Crichton? Get your mind out of the butter!'"

John closed his eyes, "No, Aeryn -- it's Gutter. Gutter, not butter." He looked back at her, "Get your mind out of the Gutter."

"Whatever." She spoke through clenched teeth. "Come on." Her tone suddenly serious, "Why did you look at me like I was a ghost?"

John looked away, "Because II uhthought you were, at first." He bent his arms and caressed her lower back and waist. Aeryn shuddered at the touch, "But you're not, cuz you're here -- with me. God, you're really here!" He slowly pushed her back and eased her between his legs each mirroring the other. Aeryn made no attempt to stop him, but only held his bottomless gaze. He placed his palm on her cheek and with the other hand brushed away a loose strand of hair. "Oh Baby, you're really here."

Aeryn leaned into his hand then pulled them both from her face and held them, wrapping her fingers through his. Her inner barriers fell and her openly receptive eyes searched his. "John, what are you talking about? Tell me."

John looked down at his hands entwined with Aeryn's. He exhaled, "It's complicated and well" he brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers. " I don't really know how to begin." His shoulders rose in fell with the silent sobs he refused to allow to escape.

Aeryn cupped his face in her hands then ran her right hand through his hair, "Try, John. Please, tell me."

John sighed and looked down, "It's Scorpy, or Harvey as I like to call him. You see he's totally frelling with my head. I thought I was captured and in this cell andhe had me relive the previous days experiences. But they weren't real. It was just one Frelling hallucination after another." Aeryn was about to speak but John continued, "Moya was unconscious and the systems were temporarily down. And we were trying to fix them butwell, environmental was so frelled up and it was getting hot. And then there was youthe heat was just so much." He looked into her eyes reflecting back his fears and feelings. "Well, to make a long story short, we said some stuff and you asked me to end your pain." Her eyes widened at the realization of where this was going. She took his hands in hers. "Oh God, Baby. I couldn't believe it was happening. I mean, how could I kill you?" John tilted his head back and brokenly exhaled. "I mean to kill the one thing that has kept me going it wasit was," He looked into her eyes. "I can't believe I did it." He sniffed and his voice was now stern and serious, "I mean you asked me again as a friend and familybut than you asked me to end your pain as something more. II couldn't say No." He looked at their hands and whispered almost inaudibly, "I never could say no to you no matter what you asked." He squeezed her hands tight, his voice returning to normal volume. "But God, I couldn't bear to see you like that. The pain" John shuddered, "Even nowthat look of pure torture and agony." He bowed his head as far as he could, leaning over in an almost fetal position unable to hold back the floodgates any longer. "God Baby, I did itI ran you through and II'm sorryyou were in so much pain but IOh God!"

She repositioned onto her knees, leaning back on her heels and pulled him towards her. He buried his head in her lap, comforted by the cool, familiar leather against his skin. She stroked his hair and whispered, "Shhh, John. It's all right. I'm here."

John let out a cry and wrapped his arms around her waist, reminding himself that she was flesh and blood, real flesh and blood. She ran her fingers through his hair and stopped at the nape of his neck, massaging his tension away. Harvey lay on John's bed, his arms crossed behind his head, "Cha-ChingBonus Points!"

He pulled himself further into her lap, until the top of his head touched her stomach. He shook his head violently. Aeryn rubbed his shoulder and whispered soothingly, "Shhhit ok. It wasn't real. I'm still here." His sobs calmed, and John turned his head so his right cheek rested between her thighs. "It's OK. Johnlook at me. It wasn't real. I'm here now, and I'm not going anywhere." Aeryn paused and caressed his cheek. "JohnI won't leave you."

John slowly slid from her lap struggling to kneel in the same position as Aeryn. He wiped the tears from his eyes and brokenly spoke, "But I killed youI can't believe I,"

"Stop it." Aeryn looked him in the eye. "You did what I would have asked. You put your own feelings aside for me." He brushed his hand across her jaw and down her neck. She whispered, "Thank you, John."

He searched her eyes only to see comfort and truth staring back. He pulled her into his arms hugging her and buried his face in her hair. He mumbled inaudible words and apologies.

She could feel drops fall onto her shoulder. He wrapped his arms tightly around her as his hands caressed her back. She pulled her head back and he brought his forehead to hers. "John, what can I do?"

He smiled and sat back on his rear, leaning against the wall, his knees apart and bent. He whispered. "Juststay with me." She turned and leaned into his chest tilting her head back onto his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

Aeryn smiled and pulled his arms even tighter. John nestled his chin into her shoulder and contently mumbled. He still couldn't believe she was here and in his arms. But she always did have a tendency of surprising him. She muttered something breaking his chain of thought. John had to tell her now, had to tell her how he felt and how much she meant to him. He would tell her that he loved her. John cleared his throat, "UhAeryn, I" he paused.

"What is it, John?"

John's heart raced, "I uh" John paused again gathering the courage to admit his love. "Thank you." John let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding. She wasn't ready to hear it or he wasn't ready to say it. But the words would not pass through his lips. She just smiled

Harvey stood at the couple's feet. He knelt down, trying to get John's attention. "Oh, John." Harvey tilted his head to look John in the face. "You know, John, you should live life in the momentbecause." Harvey paused. "You never see the curve ball coming. Who knows what hand you'll be dealt next."

 

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