Categories > TV > Farscape > Perish Twice

Part 5

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 - 2242 words

Aeryn had just started down the second corridor of her self-assigned patrol when her coms crackled to life with Pilot's frantic voice. "Officer Sun, get down to Crichton's quarters! Hurry!"

She broke into a sprint, not needing to even pause to think about which way to go. "What's wrong, Pilot?" she shouted without slowing, taking the first turn at the next junction.

"He has a pulse pistol, Aeryn -- I'm afraid he may harm himself!"

Aeryn felt her heart freeze even as her feet pounded on. How the frell had he managed to get a weapon? He hadn't had one when she'd brought him aboard, and she didn't remember seeing one in his quarters.

Barreling around the last curve, she flew through John's open door...and nearly skidded across the bare floor as she brought herself to a sudden stop. John lay on his bunk, much as she'd last seen him a few arns ago, propped up slightly on a pile of pillows gleaned from other empty cells. He did indeed have a pistol in his hand, turned exactly the wrong way, though he let it fall to his side unfired almost immediately upon her entrance. He was glaring up at her as if put out by the rude interruption. Aeryn opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again as she found herself unable to speak.

Crichton, typically, did not have that problem. "Aeryn," he said firmly, "go away."

"No," she said. Well, it was progress; she'd found one word she could say. Searching around her whirling mind, she found another. "Why?"

"So you won't have to."

Aeryn walked unsteadily over to him and sat on the edge of the bunk. She tried reaching for the pistol, but he pulled it out of her reach. She gave up, not willing to risk a struggle for the weapon. "John, we'll arrive at Selkar's hospice in less than ten solar days," she said carefully.

"She can't do anything, Aeryn. She told me that monens ago. Now just get out of here!"

She ignored the command. "And you just took her word for it? You didn't even try to find another option?" Aeryn's voice conveyed utter disbelief, and a touch of disappointment. It was a tone he'd heard before, back on the Royal Planet before his ill-fated wedding to Katralla. Was I mistaken? You're not the Crichton I knew?

As if that thought had been a trigger, John noticed a young girl -- his and Katralla's as-yet-unborn daughter -- standing on the other side of his bunk, reaching with childlike curiosity towards the pulse pistol. He yanked it out of her reach and yelped, "No!" before he could stop himself. The little girl pouted at him and vanished. Another frelling hallucination, damn it.

That involuntary movement, however, brought the pistol within Aeryn's easy reach. She grabbed his arm and wrestled it away from him quickly. It went off once in the struggle, scorching a mark into the far wall but doing no other damage. Once she had pried the gun from his fingers, she threw it across the room like a dead rat.

"Crichton, what the frell do you think you were doing?" Aeryn shouted, no longer feeling the need to tread lightly.

He glared at her, eyes blazing with more anger than she'd ever seen there before. And under the rage, buried deep, she thought she could see fear. "I was making a choice, Aeryn!" he spat. "My life, my decision. It wasn't my choice to get sucked down a wormhole, or to have Peacekeepers breathing down my neck from day one. It wasn't my choice to have the Ancients stick a bunch of New Math mumbo jumbo in my head, or have Scorpy stuff a chip in there trying to rip it out again. And it wasn't my idea to get myself twinned, or to get left behind, or to be dying by inches now. I didn't ask you to show up and yank me off that planet, but you did it anyway. I haven't been in control of my own damn life for four fucking years! Is it too much to ask that I get to make one last decision? Can't I at least die on my own terms?" He was nearly apoplectic by the end of his rant, gasping for breath and voice straining with emotion.

Aeryn caught a glimpse of D'Argo and Chiana lurking just outside John's cell. Catching the Luxan's eye, she shook her head marginally, and he nodded. As she turned her attention back to the human, she saw the others move softly away down the corridor, letting her handle this crisis.

Gradually, as she sat by his side in silence, John's breathing evened out and his features relaxed from cold rage to something closer to despair. His eyes were bright with moisture, but no tears fell.

"John," Aeryn said softly, clasping his hand, "talk to me. I want to understand. We want to help you; why won't you let us? Why didn't you tell us what was wrong in the first place?"

John sighed. His outburst had drained more energy from him than he had to spare. He felt like a hollow shell, echoing and empty, his head pounding louder than ever. There was no anger left, so he just tried to explain as best he could. In spite of everything, he still had trouble denying Aeryn anything she asked.

"Zhaan, for one. When she was dying, and we dragged her from world to world, looking for some miracle cure, when all she wanted was to enjoy the time she had left. She knew it was hopeless, but we wouldn't let her go in peace; it nearly tore us apart, remember? And I remember my grandmother, and how she looked after Grandpa died. He'd been sick a long time, with Alzheimer's -- that's a disease very old humans get, which gradually destroys memories and personality. Grandma cared for him for years, night and day, and by the end she was tending to a stranger who didn't know her anymore. When he finally died, she just looked relieved. She died herself not long afterwards, and I can't help but believe it was because of what she'd been through.

"I've put you guys through so much crap in the past few cycles, Aeryn. I don't want to sully what few good memories you might have of John Crichton by forcing you all to care for an invalid. Hell, I don't want to /be /an invalid; it's pretty close to my definition of hell. I don't want to tie you down, make any of you pass up opportunities to go home or find happiness because you think you have to look after me. That's why I left, so you could get your lives back. And that's also why...why that," he finished, waving his hand vaguely in the direction the pulse pistol had flown. "It'd be better for everyone if this was over quickly. No need to prolong the agony, for any of us."

"The John Crichton I fell in love with would never give up so easily."

"That's just it, Aeryn -- I'm not the John you loved. I'm the one that got left behind." At her wince of guilt, he shook his head. "No, I'm not angry about that. Not anymore. It was luck of the draw, that's all. He got lucky in love; I got lucky in life. At least for a little while. I don't want to die, but I've accepted that it's going to happen. It's no longer a matter of if, just a matter of when, and how. Better quick than slow. And better me than you."

Aeryn gave a wry smile, which surprised him. "I seem to recall," she mused, "being in much the same situation myself, once. About three cycles ago, I think. I was dying, I knew it, and I knew nothing could be done to stop it. I tried to get to my prowler, to fly away and die alone as I'd been taught, but someone wouldn't let me. Someone refused to let me give up, refused to accept the verdict of fate."

The hands gripping John's tightened nearly to the point of pain. "John, you are the man I fell in love with. I have no intention of letting you go without a fight. We're going to find a way to heal you, somehow, somewhere. I won't give up on you, any more than you ever gave up on me."

John just gazed at her sadly for a moment, then turned away, refusing to let himself believe in anything, not even hope. He closed his eyes, praying to every god and goddess he'd ever heard of that he could just go to sleep and never wake up again.

During the next ten solar days, Aeryn hardly ever left John's side. When he was feeling well enough, she could sometimes goad him into talking, though never about anything serious. When the pain was bad, or the hallucinations became too much to bear, she simply held his hand and lent him her strength.

At other times, though, he would sink into a black depression and refuse to eat, or break into a manic rage and try to drive her away with insults and verbal abuse. Both of these states were so entirely unlike him that Aeryn finally gave in and consulted with Jool. The young Interon expressed her opinion that the damage in John's brain was causing chemical imbalances, which in turn were the cause of these violent mood swings. There was nothing she could do. Aeryn endured it all, far more patiently than even she would have thought possible.

One evening, about two solar days from the Diagnosan's system, the entire crew gathered together in Crichton's quarters -- taking advantage of one of John's lucid periods -- to discuss plans and contingencies. After a fair amount of arguing in circles, Jool spoke up and suggested, in a surprisingly subdued manner, that if Selkar could do nothing for the ailing human, their next best hope might be to find the Interon homeworld. This was not solely for herself, she assured them -- though she would be glad to see her home again -- but because Interon and human physiology were so similar. Her people might know a way to help Crichton.

Chiana and Rygel snorted in disbelief, both of them unable or unwilling to believe that her idea was anything but purely self-serving. Their derision was interrupted by an unexpected voice.

From his prone position on the bunk, even weakened as he was, John managed to slap both of them down. "Pip, Sparky, put a sock in it. Jool's got a good point. Her motives are irrelevant; the idea is a good one. In fact," he continued, "we might as well start searching now. I know for a fact that Selkar can't do anything."

John had hardly spoken three words to anyone except Aeryn since arriving back on board -- they'd held the meeting here more as a gesture, to make him feel like part of the crew again, not because they expected him to join in the discussion -- so his sudden outburst shocked everyone into silence.

In spite of John's arguments, though, the rest voted unanimously to continue to the Diagnosan's hospice as planned. If that didn't pan out, and if Selkar had no other suggestions, then they would consider searching for Jool's home planet. Ignoring the human's exasperated objections, they adjourned the meeting.

Alone among all of them, only Aeryn, who had heard John's litany of hopes back on the planet, thought she understood the reasons for his enthusiastic support of Jool's plans. Once they were alone, she turned to him. "John, do you really think Jool's people can help, or are you just using it as an excuse to get her home?"

John grimaced, looking a bit sullen. "I'm not sure if they can help or not -- I don't think anyone can help -- but they're as good a choice as any, given the similarities between our species. Jool's right about that. Either way, though, it would be nice if we could manage to get at least one of us home."

Upon their arrival, Moya's crew invited Selkar and her assistant aboard the ship to examine Crichton again and render a verdict.

John almost smiled at the feeling of deja vu when the translator said exactly what John had been telling them all along. "We are sorry, but there is still nothing the doctor can do. There is simply not enough information available on his species to reconstruct the damaged areas as they should be. Any attempt in the absence of data would almost certainly make the situation worse."

Moya's crew looked crestfallen. Even Rygel.

"Too bad we can't get Scorpy in here to consult," John quipped darkly. "That bastard was probably the greatest expert on the human brain this side of Earth."

Most of his friends just grimaced at the gallows humor, but Aeryn froze in place at his words, as if she'd been struck. She stood like that for several microts, then, without a word, she grabbed Crais by the upper arm and dragged him from the room.

Everyone watched her go, then turned to Crichton as if requesting an explanation. "Don't look at me guys," he said, completely nonplussed. "The males of my species gave up trying to understand women a long time ago."
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