Summary: He never expected to be glad to see Braca.
Warnings: Strong language
Spoilers: Specific spoilers for Season Three, early Season Four. AU
Author’s note: Thanks to oneeyethedrd, gigerisgod and astrogirl2 for beta services. Acknowledgements to Shakespeare, Theodore Geisel, and Doublemint gum.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Come Together, kazbaby
Disclaimer: Sadly, the characters do not belong to me.
He never expected to be glad to see Braca. Silhouetted in the cell’s doorway, Smithers glares down like an angel from on high, like déjà vu – but the last angel outside a PK cell had been an entirely different vision in leather. Should have been the same this time, ‘cept that’s not how John Crichton’s luck works anymore.
His eyes are wet, but it’s from the sudden light, his vision adjusted to darkness. A packet flies at him and bounces off his uplifted hand. Clothing, heavy leather, a commando’s uniform. Gritting his teeth, John dresses, trying to ignore the sensations pouring into his brain, nerve receptors on full alert. He’s taking too long, tension rising in Braca’s frame, and then the man is hissing between his teeth, coming toward him--
“Don’t touch me!” John recoils from the reaching arm, skin tingling everywhere and sweat beading on his face, dripping down his back, collecting in his joints. Any touch is too much after that frelling witch’s oil. The scratches on his back hurt, and he stinks. He’s figured it out; Heppel oil is odorless until it metabolizes, and it’s only now, hours afterward, that he can smell what repulsed D’Argo and Sikozu in the ruins: rancid vanilla in his nose and coating his mouth, sticky and matted in the hair on his chest and thighs. John hasn’t been given a chance to bathe since leaving Arnessk, stuck in this lightless cell for God knows how long.
He finishes as fast as he can and follows the Peacekeeper out.
AerynAerynAerynAerynAeryn runs the laugh track in his brain, background beat for his pumping heart, and it should have been her at that door… Shoulda been, but she’d hit the bricks, did a twenty-three skidoo, left him high and dry to the untender mercy of Fate. Fate’s bitch, Grayza the bitch, his mouth twitching to stifle the giggle as he locks his eyes on Braca’s ramrod spine.
No Gilina to die for him this time, no Aeryn to lead him out--
--baby in her belly, ivory skin taut with the curve of it, steely gaze softened--
Braca leads him through the maze of corridors, past little tin soldiers here and there. None of them notice what feels like a spotlight targeting his every step, mussed and messy and stinking to high heaven. The flesh creeps between his shoulders with the expectation of shouts, pursuit.
“You and Scorpy had a parting of the ways, didja? Call this trading up?” A chill zings up John’s back at the thought of the bastard. After all this time, after seeing what Grayza had done to him… What Braca’d done. Even after finishing off the grave and watching the white-faced monster fall inside. He wants to wrap his arms around himself, ward off the shivers. She’d gloated over Scorpius, offered up John’s enemy like a trophy. She’d thought… She’d expected him to enjoy how she’d reduced the man. Subtle was the name of the game: John’s past and his future in one drooling package, leashed at heel.
“What game are you playing?” Under his breath, following the Peacekeeper through a command carrier. His questions are ignored, Braca’s walk easy and confident. The man played both ends – once Scorpius’ loyal minion, now his tormentor.
And John’s brain is so addled with the juice he can’t even make a guess as to what waits for them. A trick, to see if the dog would stay in the kennel? Braca’s motives are a mystery. John doesn’t give a rat’s ass, s’long as he’s out of that cell – if it’s a trap, he’ll still make a break for it, take as many down with him as he can. Off the drug, he’s not gonna roll over for anyone.
Not after D’Argo. Not after Chi and Jool and the old woman. If Grayza had any intention of alliance, she wouldn’t have killed his friends.
Magnetics spiking. Red lights on the monitors. The Peacekeepers decamping in a hurried, orderly retreat. He’d followed Grayza with his tail between his legs, cuffed and begging for the girls’ lives. He hadn’t seen Sikozu, or he might have tried to kill her himself, despite the restraints, despite the guards.
John doesn’t let himself hope that Rygel got away, that Elack and Pilot are still alive.
They stop in front of familiar doors – seen one command carrier, seen them all – the entrance to a hangar bay. Captain Braca punches in a code. Business as usual, looking nowhere but in front of him, John tagging at his heels in a stolen uniform. His destination is a battered old ship, a service vehicle by the look of it. They tramp up the ramp and forward to the cockpit.
Half-turning in the co-pilot’s chair, Scorpius looks like John feels.
Scorpius is alive.
John falls against a bulkhead and crows laughter.
Too many months he’d spent cooling his heels aboard a dying Leviathan, felt longer, like years instead, hair pushing unhindered from his scalp, whiskers itching their way out of his face. Alcohol fumes seeping from his skin. Long time to be alone after the nonstop rollercoaster ride that had been John’s life on Moya, careening from one disaster to another, starving one monen, eating roast beast the next until the very smell made him sick.
Running. Always running, a see-saw combination of terror and boredom, intermitted with the spectacular Aeryn Sun. Cool lips and slim hips and breasts that fit his hands like they were made to order. Eyes that never admitted weakness, strength that had saved his ass time and time again. Courage that let her share her fears and finally allowed his forays into her heart. Steadiness in her that he learned to count on above all else. She was fire and ice and everything in between, and he hadn’t known what it was to love someone like burning, to need someone like breath.
First you burn, and then you crash. Aeryn Sun is with child.
And it had burned. As if Fate hadn’t kicked him around enough, needed two of him, double the pleasure, double the fun, except he wasn’t the one having the fun, and the pleasure was sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought. He filled his head with the curves of equations instead of the curves of Aeryn’s body, thought of wormholes sucking open a way back home instead of the sucking hole of knowing that Aeryn was with the goddamned Xerox.
And through it all, Scorpius’ insidious voice whispered, that shining black carapace gleamed in forgotten corners of John’s mind, and those blue eyes bored into his like the Chair had bored into his brain. Harvey might have been abandoned by his daddy, but he was making damned sure that John stayed mindful. And Harvey, like his daddy, lived for revenge.
When John had taken Scorpius’ hand on the command carrier, he’d thought it would rock him to his bones, that the momentous occasion would brand him body and soul. He’d felt no more than the warm, tight grip, his eyes locked on the man opposite. He’d felt hollow.
Aeryn was only marking time. When the others got the info Rygel had bargained for, they’d all be leaving. All gone but him, on the good ship Moya-pop.
And Scorpius, of course, who’d welcomed John, and who John was lying to every microt of every arn. Sometimes his stomach churned with sickly-sweet bile, because Mama Crichton’s baby boy wasn’t the man he’d been raised to be.
He hadn’t been raised to tempt the devil. He had never imagined offering a man his heart’s desire, while preparing to obliterate his life’s work. What Linfer had already died for, what Co-Kura loved. And, oh, John remembered that passion, the drive for knowledge. He remembered wanting to put his name in the history books, not as his father’s son, but on his own merits, a man who brought the world another step forward.
In Scorpius’ lab, with powerful computers at his command, with the help and support of a knowledgeable, skilled staff, he could lose himself in the data. He could enjoy working out theory with Co-Kura, the dialogue of minds trained to understand logic and the scientific process. He could admire the elegance of the calculations, the mathematical perfection of a wormhole. He could forget about the wreck of his life and let the universe’s secrets spill from his mind to his skin. Forget about Scorpius’ frustrated, mistrustful, wanting eyes.
It is never…just science!
He’d smiled and taunted and drawn Scorpius to his side, the two of them as close in the module as he and Aeryn had once been, breathing the same air, their faces washed blue as the universe opened itself to them. Scorpius had sighed, his hand clenching with excitement on the back of John’s chair. How his voice had softened, as if he truly saw the magnificence of what they’d achieved, the wonder.
No one else ever had. And that man, too, would be destroyed when John Crichton was done.
Afterward, insanely, he’d half expected to share the last ride off the carrier, the two of them bound together by hatred and pain and the shining water-blue wonder that drove them both. By mutual destruction.
John would never know if the lab techs, any of the men and women he’d spoken to, borrowed pens from, worked with, had survived. He’d seen life pods crash into debris, fished stunned survivors from drifting wreckage and pushed them into repaired pods. He’d watched bodies spin through space. Men, women. Children.
He’d settled on the sill of a porthole, emptiness at his back, jagged hole within, and copied alien symbols from skin to notepad to numb the sharpest edges. Aeryn sat beside him, cored out, as wordless as he was.
Afterward, his friends left. Aeryn left.
No Scorpius. No wormhole. No Earth. No friends. No Aeryn.
Just a dog with no bone, staring at himself.
I’m almost out of fuel.
Hours aboard Elack had had been measured by the dripping of the still, months by Aeryn’s swelling belly in John’s increasingly skilled fantasies. Time didn’t matter. He’d spent a lot of it thinking. Spent a lot not thinking. Just John and his rotgut, his calculations and his little DRD buddy. John and Pilot and dying Elack. Hell, why not work on wormhole theory? It’s not like he had anything else going for him. No one was coming to save him this time.
Forward is the truth
Aeryn wasn’t the only one going backward.
Grayza doesn’t give a crap about wormholes unless they present an immediate military advantage over the Scarrans, but she cares a lot about vengeance. Scorpius made a fool of her, and she put him down like a dog. John pointed a gun at her, and she brought him to heel quicker’n you could say, “Geronimo.”
But it looks like her Numero Uno isn’t quite as devoted as he appeared. John spends a few microts gaping at the revenant before Braca’s irritated slap to his chest gains his instant attention. The flat smack chain-reacts up and down his body, and John steps smartly away, watching the captain’s lips flatten into a tight line.
“Listen, Crichton.” Braca speaks in controlled, clipped tones, explaining that the data chip he draws from his sleeve is not only gonna let them fly the coop, it’s programmed for the next two stops on the Magical Mystery tour. Oh, and that’s not all, f-f-folks: there’s a special prize at the bottom of the crackerjack box.
AerynAerynAeryn thrums the beating of John’s heart. Braca’s dark eyes narrow when he breathes her name. “You’ll have to get there to find out.”
There is nothing like affection in the gaze the officer rests on Scorpius; their eyes meet for a long moment, and John turns away, wipes his palm over his mouth and closes his ears to the harsh breathing from the co-pilot’s seat. He doesn’t want to know.
Grayza killed his friends. Scorpius would have.
The last time he saw Scorpius face-to-face, he’d just crushed the man’s dreams.
Get the bastard off the boat, follow the bread crumbs to the end of the trail. Aeryn, maybe. Moya, maybe. Braca’s always been a straightforward thug, never bothered to lie to John. And John has nowhere else to go. He’ll take the chance. He’ll find Aeryn and the baby. After that, everything will work out. It has to.
He jumps when Braca’s shoulder brushes his. The shorter man smirks, holding out the chip. John reluctantly opens his palm, and Braca drops it into his hand. He glances back at Scorpius, who has turned the chair forward again, gloved hands resting on the console. Despite the green cast to his skin, he remains upright, the effort apparent. Braca leans in to John, too close. “Harm him in any way,” he murmurs, warm breath and words iced, “and when I’m through with you, you’ll beg for Grayza’s tender care.”
John’s skin crawls at the puffs of air on his ear. His fist balls around the chip. “Spoken like a man in love.” He steps away, bares clenched teeth in a hard grin. He watches Braca’s eye twitch, nose wrinkling. “Let’s get a move on.”
The captain shakes his head and turns toward the cockpit entrance. “I have other responsibilities. When Scorpius is ready to return, he won’t find us lacking.”
“Commandant Grayza? Not your concern.” Braca dismisses him with a glance, looks past him, and then turns on his heel. The hatch cycles shut. John wipes grimy hands on his pants and takes the pilot’s chair. Not looking at Scorpius, he punches the data chip into the navigation slot and sits back. His reflection stares at him, cross-hatched from the pattern on an activating viewscreen.
“Fly safe,” he whispers.