Note: I'd like to thank ivorygates and thehallway for their awesome betas of this. What would I do without you ladies? Any other mistakes are my own.
Summary: The only way to learn is by getting your hands dirty.
Spoilers: Seasons three and four
Title, Author and URL of original story: Vigilante Man (#2 in Three Things That Never Happened to Furlow), pdxscaper
Learning From Fools and From Sages
(the eternal vigilance remix)
(the eternal vigilance remix)
Dusk til dawn. Sweet wormholes sang their siren melody as another ship was ground into so much cosmic dust. He came in and swept up the leftovers and turned a pretty penny.
The money was nothing, funding his hunt, his hunger for vengeance. When he stopped long enough to think, really think about it, he laughed coldly at the idea that Scorpius still got what he wanted and now John was living out the summary judgment passed down upon him while strapped to a table and waiting – wishing, begging – to leave this sad excuse of a universe behind. None of them had ever figured that all it took was an added dash of salt in the wound to sweeten the pot.
Thirty minutes worth of scars, his heart cut out and up and spat away. Lying like a shredded rag doll on top of a piece of mechanized junk and hubris. More than a lifetime’s worth of tears; glittering monuments that faded, but left stains that would never wash away without the light of the sun.
When the old Dominar left, it was without a sound or complaint. He’d simply held out one diminutive hand to John and silently pressed the Ractor blade into his palm with the other and looked away briefly over John’s shoulder to the woman shoving several necessities into the back of the same dune buggy that had carried Aeryn to the transport pod one last time, bowing his head once before steering the thronesled up the ramp.
John hadn’t understood then what he was being told, but he'd recognized a warning when he saw one. Rygel knew exactly how to penetrate his grief and threadbare self-control enough so that he didn't continue on completely blind to the person behind the hand that was providing a means to an end. Intrigue and money were Rygel's forte and they weren't something John Crichton dismissed lightly any longer.
Keeping a piece of Aeryn with him, wherever – whenever - he would go. Its home appeared to be nothing more than a discarded and broken data crystal if you don’t look too closely, a cheap piece of amber if you did. A few strands of hair, offered up in remembrance from his twin after he’d been given the news.
There had been no other choice but to call for Crichton to come to him. He was on the warpath and wouldn’t - couldn’t - refused to be diverted, not even long enough to retrieve something so precious. The other one. Him. Wanted to come along and fight at his side. His claims of hatred were just as righteous. His love gave him that right.
It only took a little bit of convincing, a great deal of D’Argo’s store-bought moonshine, bruised knuckles and a split lip, but finally Crichton was convinced to go after the other half of the coin with the others in tow and put a stop to Scorpius’ research while he went after the big bad that destroyed his – their - universe.
Coming through the door, he zeros in on Furlow sitting at her preferred table. She shoos away one of her flunkies when he crosses the room and grabs the bottle and second glass in front of her. He doesn’t even consider the contents when he throws it back and swallows quickly. Turning the glass upside down on the table top, he doesn’t give her the satisfaction of acknowledging the disappointed look on her face when he doesn’t react the way she thought.
He’s learned a lot of little tricks in the past half-cycle.
She recovers quickly and sticks a cigar in her mouth, teeth grinding together, rending the pungent herb into mush between them, the only thing holding it in place is the thick covering rolled tightly around it. She puffs, and lets the smoke spill out and encircle her head; she drops whatever it is that she’s working on.
He’d tried one once, just to see, after scoring Furlow a big payday and shaking the dust of a dead dreadnaught from his boots. He’d ended up folded over the edge of the table coughing out a spleen to the beat of his companion’s blustery laugh, feeling as if she were sitting on of his chest. The smoke had settled in the bottom of his lungs and stayed for the rest of the day.
"Which reality did ya visit this time?" she asks him. The question is becoming less frequent. He knows that the not knowing, not being in on every single detail is eating her up inside because she trusts him about as far as he can throw her. As long as the money weighs down her pockets though, she keeps her part of the bargain.
Her hands can’t grip the knife embedded deeply in the center of her chest, severing the vein leading to her heart, the placement no act of luck as she looks from the hilt to his face and back again.
He laughs when she calls him partner, not every time, just enough that her Spidey-senses aren’t triggered long before the time was right.
The camera is pointed at her bulbous face; he doesn’t stop watching in case she finds a way to break free of the chains binding her to the center beam where he and Aeryn had originally found her on their second trip to Dam Ba Da. Call it a bonus well earned, but he enjoys watching her curse and strain uselessly. Eyes blank, he silently counts off the seconds until the plasma grenades ignite, vaporizing everything held between, then he walks away from the monitor sitting on the broken stone wall.
He’d had a partner, one that had watched his back and promised to be with him for the rest of his life. Now, because of Furlow’s thievery, the only person he can truly count on is himself.
Eyes bulging, she tries to rip his hands away from her throat, no longer caring about the pain in her shattered kneecaps. It takes several minutes but finally her gaze shifts away vacantly and her hands loosen from his wrists and fall out to the sides (he’ll have bruises on there for a couple weeks, he thinks absently).
"None of your business,” he's told her in the past and walked away. The fatigue he feels is starting to hollow him out, each day leaving him more numb than cold. Never, not once in all of the realities he visits, has he allowed himself to seek out the one person who could make all this go away. If he did, all that it would take was one look in his direction and he would fall to his knees at her feet and never leave - hiding away from what really happened to her, to his Aeryn. That would be a lie.
And he could never lie to her - not where his heart and home were concerned - because they were one and the same.
His revenge here, in this time, in this place, will be different. His – their – reality is special. Here there are two John Crichtons that need the satisfaction of paying back the woman that betrayed them. She is the one who caused the death of Aeryn Sun.
The other Furlows, no different from the one in his reality, are expendable. Extra credit as he writes his thesis on how to rid the universe of those who would conquer the weak. Only once does he consider sparing her life, because of her arguments of being part of something larger, of a resistance within the Scarrans' very own network of traitorous wastes of life. It lasts almost four full seconds after his gun falls to his side and he watches as the pop and fizzle of seared circuits cook the synthetic flesh housing them. Walking away, he thinks mechanic, heal thyself and he feels a chuckle almost make its way from his lips as he climbs into his module.
“What’s up, Johnny?”
He tilts his head, finger tracing a line around the edge of the cup, and grins. “Got somethin’ special for you, Furlow. Somethin’ – right up your alley…”
Her eyebrows rise up, disappearing beneath the brim of her cap. “Oh? Gonna give me that palace in the sky you been promising me?”
“Better. I’m gonna give you a kinda reward for all that you’ve done for me. Long past time I made payment…”
She stands up after hearing the magic word, and comes around the table to join him as he heads back to the door leading outside. Holding the door open, he allows her to take the lead.
There’s someone waiting for them, hip leaning against the nose of the module. He looks at the two of them for a moment before straightening his frame up to full height. “Long time, no see,” Crichton flashes a smile before nodding in his direction. “Well, maybe not.”
“What the frell is going on here?” she asks, caught off-guard and taking a half-step back before bumping into him. Steadying her with a hand against her shoulder, he kicks the door closed behind them.
“Told ya I had a something for you. Meet my brother.”
“Never mentioned a brother before…”
“You never asked.”
Furlow considers his answer and the cigar switches from one side to the other. “What’s your name, cutie?”
Crichton’s body shifts slightly. “Oh you know my name – it’s John.”
She thinks it’s a joke and laughs while commenting that their parents weren’t very original, not realizing the sore spot she’d just chosen to poke until he tightens his grip on her shoulder.
“Watch it there, flyboy, you’re damaging the merchandise…”
Ignoring her for a brief moment, he asks, “So all her boys tucked into bed for the night?”
Crichton nods. “Yeah. I made sure of it.”
He’s already pulling the Ractor from his pocket, flicking off the safety, the blade readily spreading out the charge through the tempered metal.
She tries to break from his grip, and would have succeeded if Crichton weren’t there to land a punch squarely in the center of her fat gut. “Told you I had a surprise for you, Furlow; that you were going to get your reward. That I was going to pay you back in kind,” he hisses in her ear, crouching beside her as she curses. Crichton is standing over them, the blood of a command carrier and several thousand Peacekeeper souls shining brightly in his eyes.
The knife slides as easily through her clothes as it does the flesh beneath. He – they – both share in listening to her pay for Aeryn Sun, her potential for life. He doesn’t make her last moments go by too swiftly, encouraging her to list her sins over and over again with each slice of the blade and promising relief will come soon.
When Furlow’s end finally does come, they leave her lying in the dirt and climb into their respective copies of the module.
John has been striking out against the Scarran Imperium for monens, but he's only one man, only John Crichton, and there's only so much destruction that even he can rain down upon their heads. Soon he’ll finish teaching Crichton the lessons that Jack had taught him. The knowledge is there, inside, waiting for school to be back in session.