Categories > TV > Farscape > Perish Twice

Part 4

by OneEye 0 reviews

This is a sequel to "No One Left Behind", a hypothetical season finale scenario for Season 3, written before the broadcast of episodes 319-322. A hypothetical finale, though, implies the existence ...

Category: Farscape - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Warnings: [!!] [?] - Published: 2006-07-20 - Updated: 2006-07-21 - 2827 words

It was dark, and cold, and quiet. Like floating in space, without the pain. Even the cold no longer bothered him; it was just there. An absence of heat, sensory dissolution.

Gradually, the silence gave way to the murmuring of distant voices. The words meant nothing, but the tones and emotions flowed through. Comforting. Familiar.


"Jool, you have to tell me what's wrong with him."

Muffled protest, more distant, less familiar.

"...barely gotten him stabilized... realize you're worried, but hanging over me every microt is really not helpful... let me get the scanner set up...."

Third voice, deeper, curious.

"Did he tell you anything, Aeryn?"

First voice, still angry -- or perhaps frightened.

"Just that the Diagnosan we took him to when he was injured found something wrong with his brain. He's partially paralyzed, having memory problems, and has apparently been hallucinating for some time. He thought I was a figment of his imagination."

Deep voice again, softer tone.

"Why didn't he tell us? We might have been able to help him."

Sadness now, not anger.

/"D'Argo, he came here to die. To spare us -- to spare /me -- from having to watch it happen again."

Silence fell, no more voices. Sinking deeper, he faded away again and let the darkness reclaim him.

Full consciousness returned two solar days later, though to Crichton it felt like no time at all had passed since he'd been lying on the shore of his lake. When he opened his eyes to see the familiar, golden-brown hues of Moya's interior walls, he figured he was still dreaming. He was in his old quarters, and they looked just as he remembered them. At first he thought he was alone, but when he turned his head, he saw a head of long, dark hair resting against the side of his bed. He smiled, but didn't speak, content to just bask in her presence for however long this lasted.

Somehow, the figure beside him sensed his gaze and turned, looking into his face inquiringly.

"Hey, babe," he greeted Aeryn cheerfully. "Nice place you got here. They say your life's supposed to flash before your eyes when you die; I'm not sure this is what they meant, but I'm not gonna complain. Never felt better, in fact."

Aeryn just stared back at him, her expression tightening as she fought a wave of emotion at his careless words. Years of Peacekeeper training fought to hold the line, wavered, and then collapsed under the onslaught of despair and nascent empathy. Moisture pooled in her eyes, tears spilling over and streaking unchecked down her face without a sound.

John screwed his eyes shut and turned away, cursing his brain for tormenting him with the one sight he'd hoped to never witness again. Seeing Aeryn in tears -- knowing full well that John Crichton, in some incarnation, was almost certainly the cause of her pain -- tore his heart to shreds.

He felt a cool hand touch his cheek -- Aeryn, probably concerned at his sudden withdrawal, reaching out to draw him back.

Touch? He'd never before been able to touch his visions -- except Harvey, but the clone had always been a bit more than a simple hallucination. A moment later, that thought led to some realizations that finally shattered the illusion.

First was the awareness that his head was hurting, a dull pounding that felt like it was trying to push his brain out through his eye sockets, and that his arm and leg were still paralyzed, all of which seemed wrong for a dream. That led to other sensations, including certain mundane biological needs that had no business being felt in any self-respecting delusion.

All of which meant... this might be real. And if that were true... "Ah, crap." He'd been so frelling close to freedom, to the next great adventure. And now, it seemed, he'd been dragged back into a world of suffering and pain, and all of his careful plans were collapsing around his ears.

"John?" Aeryn's voice was worried. Crichton was torn between anger at her for ruining his plans and overwhelming joy at being able to see her, touch her, and hear her voice again.

But her presence changed nothing, he realized. He was still dying, and nothing she or any of the others could do would change that. He knew his friends well enough to know that they'd try. And they'd keep trying, even after all hope was gone. As they'd tried with Zhaan. He had hoped to spare them the effort, the pain of disappointment that came with the inevitable failure. John understood now, completely and utterly, why Zhaan had been so willing, even eager, to give her life to free Moya from the Pathfinder ship.

"John?" Aeryn called to him again. "Are you in pain? Should I call Jool?"

He just shook his head. He didn't feel like talking, not anymore. The signals his body was sending him were getting more insistent, and he knew that, with his leg no longer working properly, he'd need help. Swallowing his pride, he tried to push himself over with his right arm. "Help me up," he said tersely. "Gotta pee."

Aeryn helped him across the room to the facilities, and back again when he'd taken care of his body's needs. He said nothing the entire time, in spite of Aeryn's tentative queries. As he lay back down, he nodded his thanks, but still said nothing. There was nothing to say.

It was a somber group that gathered in Pilot's chamber later that day.

"He won't talk to me," Aeryn told them. "The microt he realized he wasn't dreaming, or dying, or whatever, he just shut down and pulled away from everything. Jool, what did your scans show?"

The young Interon shook her head. "With the pathetic equipment we have available, I wasn't able to learn much. There are sections of Crichton's brain that seem... dead. They're not actually dead -- the tissue itself is still alive -- but the connections between the neural cells seem to have failed, or been interrupted. Other parts are overactive and chaotic. But I can't tell what's causing it, so I have no way of knowing if there's any way to stop it, or fix it. I just don't have the right tools. Or..." she paused, uncomfortable at the admission, "...the right training."

D'Argo nodded, pleased at her honesty. "Then we need to find someone who has the right equipment, and the right skills."

"What about the Diagnosan who found it in the first place? Tocot fixed his brain the last time; maybe she can, too," Chiana offered.

"If she could have fixed this, don't you think she would have done so already?" Aeryn asked. "John seemed convinced that nothing could be done."

D'Argo thought for a second, then shook his head. "John might have refused to let her help, particularly if whatever cure Selkar offered involved the use of a donor. Or perhaps she simply could not help him at all. And if that's true...I could almost wish, for John's sake, that we'd arrived a solar day later."

"D'Argo!" Chiana gasped in horror. "How can you say that? John's your friend!"

"Yes, he is my friend. And as his friend, I should respect the decision he made in coming to this place. As a fellow warrior, I do understand his reasons. The way Aeryn described it, John was at peace, content with his fate and his life. There are far worse ways for a man to die than that, and we may indeed have condemned him to something far worse. If we cannot find a cure for him, and we force him to live as he is now -- helpless and in pain -- he will not thank us."

"So what are you saying?" Aeryn asked in a quiet voice. "That we should have just let him die?"

"No, I don't believe he really wants to die alone, any more than I believed you when you said it three cycles ago; we have to help him, be there for him, now that the choice has been given to us. I only hope Selkar can help, or can direct us to someone who can. Otherwise, we may face a difficult decision later, one none of us wants to make."

"We need to find help quickly, D'Argo. We're monens away from Selkar's hospice now, if we could even find it again," Aeryn protested.

"Actually," Pilot spoke up, "if I may interrupt.... Talyn has shared information about his journeys with Moya, including all his navigational data. Our course since rejoining Talyn has been erratic and nearly random, with no specific direction and certainly not in a straight line. If my charts are correct, I believe we have wandered back towards that area of space, and are actually not far from the system containing the medical facility. We should be able to arrive there within less than two weekens. Would that satisfy your needs?"

The group just stared at Pilot for a moment, then Aeryn nodded. "Quite satisfactory, thank you. Are we all agreed?" She looked from face to face for dissention and found none. "Do it, Pilot. Fast as you can."

"You have to eat something, Old Man, and I went to a lot of trouble to make this for you. After eating that dren you had for so long, I'd think you'd be happy to see some real food."

Crichton just shook his head slightly. "Not hungry, Pip." He closed his eyes, hoping she'd get the hint and just go away. In spite of Jool's potions, his headache was still pounding like a sub-woofer at a heavy metal concert. Lying here day after day, unable to get up and move around without assistance, was making the walls close in on him. He felt trapped.

The crash of the tray slamming into the table startled him. He opened his eyes just in time to see Chiana lean over and grab the front of his shirt. "Just because you're sick, Crichton, does not give you the right to lie to me. We went to a lot of trouble to track you down--"

"Didn't ask you to," John murmured.

"You didn't have to ask," she countered. "You're our friend, Crichton. We want to help."

"Nothin' you can do."

Chiana released her hold on his shirt in exasperation. "And when has that ever stopped us? We'll find a way. If Selkar can't help, we'll find someone who can. You never gave up on any of us, Crichton; we're not gonna give up on you. But in the meantime, you have to eat, and I'm not going to give up on that, either."

Eventually, he gave in and ate a little. He hadn't been lying -- he truly wasn't hungry and didn't feel like eating -- but it wasn't worth the effort of arguing with someone as stubborn as Chi.

About halfway through the meal, the young Nebari suddenly lifted her head and turned, as if listening. "Did you hear that?" she asked.

"Hear what, Pip?"

"Pulse fire...I heard a shot."

"Didn't hear anything; probably just your imagination."

Chiana looked at him blankly for a moment, then shook her head as if to clear cobwebs. "No, that just means it hasn't happened yet." Without another word to John, she set the tray aside and ran for the door. As she vanished into the corridor, he could hear her calling Pilot and the others with a warning about what she'd sensed.

When Chiana ran into Command, she found the others already there.

Pilot called from the clamshell, "I have scanned all of Moya's systems and find no indication of any intruders aboard. All systems are functioning at optimal levels."

"Chiana," D'Argo began, in a voice that sounded infuriatingly patronizing. She didn't let him finish.

"No, D'Argo, I don't care if you don't believe me, I don't care if any of you believe me. I know what I heard. It's happened before. And the last time it happened, Naj Gil got shot within an a few arns."

Aeryn nodded. Ever since Chiana's vision of Crichton had proved so accurate, she'd developed a grudging respect for her abilities. "It will harm nothing if we conduct a search of the ship."

"Harm nothing?" Rygel griped. "The little tralk interrupted my meal, which is now getting cold. The rest of you can waste time on this nonsense all you want, but I am going to--"

Aeryn smacked him in the back of the head, rocking his throne sled momentarily.

"--go check the cargo bays for intruders," Rygel finished in a long-suffering sigh.

"I'll take quarters and the cell levels," Aeryn announced, following Rygel out into the hallway. The others argued for several moments about who would cover what, then split up and began the search.

Left alone in his quarters, with only the pleasant, susurrant rhythm of Moya's systems breaking the silence, John lay back and sighed.

"How long do you think it will be, Sweet John," Zhaan asked as she emerged from the shadows in the corner, "before they accept the inevitable?"

"Months. Years. Maybe never," he answered sadly, gazing at the exotic blue beauty of his long-dead friend. The hallucinations were growing more frequent and more insidious. The night before, he'd woken to find himself surrounded by Peacekeepers, the anonymous, now-dead crew of Scorpy's carrier, all staring at him in silent accusation. Standing among them were Larraq and Hassan, the first people he'd ever killed. Knowing it wasn't real hadn't made the experience any less painful.

As he watched Zhaan now, her figure darkened, warped, and melted into a more sinister vision. "And do you think they will ever be able to give you what you need?" Scorpius asked.

John didn't even blink at the sudden transformation. "I don't know. I asked D'Argo once -- a long time ago, different situation -- and he couldn't do it. Chiana and Jool? I love 'em both, like my kid sisters, but they'd both freak if I even brought the subject up. Sparky? Yeah, right....

"Aeryn...Aeryn might be able to do it, when it gets bad enough. She cares about me, I think, in spite of everything, and she understands mercy. But I could never ask that of her, not after the other one. It would destroy her; it's what I was trying to avoid by leaving."

The figure before him transformed again, this time into the likeness of Aeryn Sun, dressed in a full Peacekeeper uniform and pointing a pulse rifle at him, her eyes cold and dead. John started to reach out to her with his hand, only to have the image waver and dissipate into nothing. He noticed, as if in a dream, that his raised hand -- his right hand -- was trembling.

That tripped a switch in his head. He was dying; he knew that, and had accepted it months ago. His friends, on the other hand, were never going to accept it. They were already wearing themselves out in a fruitless and probably dangerous search for a cure. They were chaining themselves to a misguided sense of duty, following a mirage to something that didn't exist. It was pointless.

He felt useless lying here. Worse than useless. A burden to everyone. And it was only going to get worse. But there was still one thing he could do for them, and that trembling hand told him he had to do it soon or he wouldn't be able.

Turning his head, John spotted a DRD sitting just outside his doorway, keeping an eye on him. Beckoning the little robot over, he directed it to fetch the black duffel bag he'd long ago tossed into the corner and drag it over to him. The bag was heavy, almost more than the little droid could move, but eventually it came within his reach. Job completed, the DRD backed away slightly to await further instructions.

Opening the bag was difficult with only one hand, especially since he couldn't turn himself over to see what he was doing. Eventually, though, after feeling around inside the bag for what seemed like an eternity, his hand encountered the familiar hard shape it had been seeking. He lifted it out of the bag and held it up to look at.

Smooth, dark lines -- a deadly kind of beauty. It wasn't Winona -- she was now rusting slowly at the bottom of a lake -- but this lovely lady would do him just fine. He didn't need a long-term relationship for this. It was the ultimate one-night-stand. Didn't even have to know her name -- just wham, bam, thank you ma'am.

He was tired. Tired of waiting, tired of hurting, tired of watching his friends suffer because of him. Mom would understand. Turning the gun around and placing his thumb on the trigger, he aimed, not at his head -- his poor brain had taken quite enough abuse, thank you very much -- but at his heart.
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