Written for AstroGirl as part of the Yuletide Secret Santa project. It was supposed to be John/Harvey but it really only kinda sorta ended up that way.
Story Notes: This story contains dialogue from, and spoilers for, Promises (season 4, ep. 5, I think.)
A Question of Trust
John stared at the tableau in front of him. Scorpius, holding a neural spike, the same thing he'd used to drive the chip in in the first place, and Sikozu, looking like a deer caught in the headlights, handing it to him.
He pulled Winona, holding her steady on Scorpius. "So... that's how you survived," John said. "She was on your team all along."
Scorpius shook his head. "Untrue. She has just begun to help."
"How?" John snarled. "By sticking another chip in my head?"
"Quite the reverse." The voice was maddeningly calm. "This device... will take the neural clone from your mind."
Scorpius knew about Harvey? Shit. John stalled. "What clone?"
"John..." Scorpius stood up. John raised the gun, pointing Winona straight at Scorpius' head. "Officer Sun is in danger, and so is Moya. I can help. Simply clear your mind... and I will help."
Help. Yeah, sure. He was positive that was what Scorpius wanted to do, all right. If he just hadn't frelling promised Aeryn- His finger tensed on the trigger, longing to pull, to end this nightmare once and for all. And yet- to be free, of the unwelcome presence in his head- to be alone in his own mind again-
He couldn't trust Scorpius. "No- "
"Consider this: I saved Officer Sun's life, while the clone killed her!"
And no matter what Harvey did to help, he couldn't forget that. Couldn't forget the sick horror he'd felt as he took back control and watched Aeryn plunge to her doom in the ice. Couldn't forget-
"Don't listen to him, John," he heard Harvey plead, but it was far away. Hadn't Harvey taken control of his body, just minutes ago? Hadn't Harvey impersonated Aeryn, and tried to persuade him to abandon the real one? "Why don't you let her go, John... she's not yours."
Could he trust Harvey not to harm Aeryn?
No. No, he didn't think he could.
The scene he set was straight out of "Reservoir Dogs", the warehouse, him and Harvey in gangster dress. He pulled his gun, aiming straight at Harvey as he walked toward him.
This was for Aeryn. He had to do it. As much as he feared Scorpius, right now the bigger danger to Aeryn was Harvey.
"No, John. That is not necessary," Harvey said, arms wide, obviously trying to project harmlessness. "'I'll... get back into the dumpster." He turned and started to walk off.
"That's not good enough," John said. He put his hand on the back of the chair in front of him. "Come sit. "
"What?" Harvey asked.
"This is a private place, Harv. You don't belong here."
"I've been your ally, John, and your friend."
Yeah, he knew that. He couldn't have beaten Scorpius on the Command Carrier without Harvey. He might have gone insane with the loneliness on Elack, no one to talk to but the elderly Pilot, without Harvey. But Aeryn...
"It's time for you to go," he said.
Harvey shook his head. "You're going to trust Scorpius, and not me? John, which of us has proven himself to be a friend to you? Which of us has saved your life, repeatedly? And which of us nearly destroyed you?"
"You nearly destroyed me."
"That was before. When I was the chip, I had no free will. I had to do as Scorpius had programmed me to." Harvey dropped his hands. "Can you take the risk that he won't do the same thing again?"
John shook his head. "You tried to kill Aeryn. You did kill Aeryn. Zhaan died because of you."
"John, that was the chip. And I was trying to save your life. Or the chip was. Aeryn was going to shoot you down. I- the chip me- didn't know she wouldn't be able to eject."
"You think that makes it better?"
"You're afraid I'll hurt Aeryn." Harvey shook his head. "Your well-being is my well-being, John. You wanted to die when you thought I'd killed Aeryn. If I harmed her, and you became suicidal, how would that benefit me?"
"I don't know, Harv, you tell me. You just tried to tell me to abandon her."
"She left you. And she's asked you to keep Scorpius aboard! How do you know he didn't put a chip in her head?"
And that was his recurring nightmare as well, Scorpius standing over Aeryn's limp body, Scorpius driving a neural spike into her brain. "How can I trust you, Harvey?"
"You know the only reason Scorpius knows I am still here is that he's realized you lied to him, and that you could only have done that with my aid. He wants to make sure you can't lie to him anymore, John. He wants to be able to manipulate you, and he needs to know when you're telling the truth to do that. You're going to let him stick a neural spike in your head, again, because you're afraid that I might hurt Aeryn? John, I'd never do anything to hurt you. Since I gained free will, I have only ever helped you. Your life is my life. How could I harm you?"
"You just took control of my body."
"I won't do it again."
"How'm I supposed to believe that?"
"You don't believe me, but you'll believe Scorpius? You know he only wants one thing and he'll do anything to get it. Do you really think his motives are benevolent?"
No. He didn't. And yet, how could he trust Harvey? Who would be able to remove the neural clone, if not Scorpius? John lowered the gun, but kept it in his hand. "Am I supposed to have you in here forever, Harv? I'm never alone with you around. I never get any privacy, any space to myself."
"You're never lonely, either," Harvey retorted. "You're never standing alone against a threat, like you were the first time Scorpius put you in the Chair. I've always got your back, John. Even when I think it's too dangerous and you shouldn't be doing it, I've always tried to protect you. Doesn't that make us friends? Buddies? Partners, at least?"
"Nuh-uh, Harvey. We've come to an arrangement because we had to, but we were never friends. You're an uninvited houseguest and I don't want you here."
"And you trust Scorpius to kill me for you? John..." Harvey leaned forward, resting his hands on the back of the chair, face directly in John's. "I used to be Scorpius, remember? I know him. He does not do things for benevolent reasons. Everything he does has to have a purpose. If he wants to get rid of me for you, then at the least it's because he sees me as your ally against him. More likely, he has a plan to trick you. Perhaps he'll put another chip in your head, or reprogram me to turn on you. Perhaps he's got a copy of the chip he had before, and all he needs to do is copy a small amount of data to fill in the gaps and get the wormhole technology for himself. I can't tell you what his plan is, but I can tell you you won't like it."
"I... know. I know." John backed off. The imaginary gun in his hand was getting heavier. Maybe because in real life, his arm was getting strained from holding Winona on Scorpius for so long. Maybe not. "But you just took over my body. You tried to get me to abandon Aeryn-"
"She did abandon you, John."
"She needed time."
"And you need drugs to forget her! Why put yourself through that kind of torment? Why not cut your losses?"
"Because I love her!" John threw his hands up in the air, gun and all. "How can you possibly understand? You're Scorpius, or you're modeled off him anyway. You've never known what it means to love anyone; all you understand is revenge."
"Oh, no. I do understand what it means to be in love."
"You have my memories to read. That doesn't mean you understand them."
"I do understand them." Harvey's voice was unusually quiet. "I even know what it means to love someone who doesn't love you in return. I know what it means to love someone who does nothing but hurt you, who turns to your mutual enemy rather than to you. And that's why I don't want to see you put yourself through that. Because I do know what it's like."
John felt cold. "You... you're in love with Aeryn too?"
Harvey stared at him with an utterly dumbfounded expression for a moment. "Oh, John. You are a complete idiot, aren't you?"
"Then what do you mean by being in love? Who's there for you to be in love with? I mean, aside from you meeting D'Argo that one time, and I'm still not convinced that whole thing wasn't a drug hallucination, who even knows about you except... me..." He trailed off, a sudden horrifying realization breaking in on him.
"You know," Harvey said conversationally, "your world is a fascinating place, don't get me wrong, and I'd love to see it sometime when you finally find a way home. But sometimes you humans can be hopelessly provincial. I've fought for you, crawled into dumpsters because you didn't want to hear me that day, hidden when you wanted some privacy, saved your life when your best friend nearly killed you-"
"You did those things because if I died, you'd die as well."
"Well, yes, but why do I want to be alive? When I first realized I'd been left behind in your head, with free will and no sense of purpose anymore, I wanted us both to die, remember?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I remember that. And I kicked your ass and threw you in a dumpster."
"Yes, you did. And I understand why you did that, now. You wanted to live... and now, so do I. When I was the chip, I had a purpose in my existence. I was totally loyal to Scorpius; I protected you solely because I'd been instructed to do. I drove you insane because I'd been ordered to do that. I didn't care about you, as a person." He reached out a hand to John, a pleading expression on his face. "Things became different after the chip was removed. If I still thought so little of you, how could I bear an existence where you are the only person I have to talk to, where your memories and your body are the only references I have to living a life? I may look superficially like Scorpius, I remember a good bit about him, but I don't remember what it felt like to be him. When I think of physical sensation, of the taste of food, the sound of an ocean, the feel of wind in my face... all those things come from you. Everything good in my existence comes from you. How could I not love you?"
"Is this... are we talking about, like, Starsky and Hutch we're best buddies kind of love, or Bonnie and Clyde we're partners in crime and we also screw like bunnies kind of love?"
"Is there a difference? You call yourself and Aeryn Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Is that different from Bonnie and Clyde?"
"Aside from the obvious that they are both guys?"
"So why did you call yourself and Aeryn that, if it matters so much?"
"Because..." Because why? "Well, her name's Sun, you know? Sun, Sundance..."
"Sundance isn't pronounced the same as Soondance."
"We're partners. And I never watched the movie with Bonnie and Clyde."
"Aren't we partners too, John?"
"Well... yeah, we've had to work together. But you look like the Phantom of the Opera, Harv. Even if I could get past the you're a guy thing, you look like Scorpius."
"I could look like a woman."
"Yeah, I saw that. You looked like Aeryn, if Aeryn looked like Scorpius. It's not a pretty picture, okay?"
Harvey sighed. "John, I don't need to have sex with you. I don't have a physical body aside from yours, so I'm not entirely sure how that would work anyway. Besides, I'm there every time you spend some quality time with Madam Palm and her five daughters-"
"TMI, Harvey. Wayyy TMI."
"All right, all right. The point is, we share the same physical sensations. From my perspective, it would be delightful if you and Aeryn were to get back together. But I don't think it will happen, and she's hurting you. And I know how you feel, even beyond being able to perceive your physical and emotional state, because you are doing the same thing to me, right now." He shook his head sadly. "If you're going to trust to Scorpius, and not me, because you despise me so much you would rather turn to your worst enemy than endure having me around anymore... then go ahead. Do it. I've enjoyed my life in your mind- your memories are full of such wonders, such pleasures." He smiled dreamily. "Cool jazz piano, chocolate ice cream, women's perfume... women..." Smile lost, he looked straight at John. "But none of it means anything if you hate me so very much. I remember living here when you and I were bitter enemies, because of what I'd done as the chip, and I remember I wanted to die. A house divided cannot stand. So if you will trust Scorpius, and not me, then do it." He plopped down in the chair, back of his head facing John. "Kill me."
John raised the gun... and dropped it again, holstering it.
In the real world, he backed up. "No deal, Scorp. Give that spiky thing to Sputnik, and have her hand it over to me, nice and slow."
Scorpius shook his head. "You are being very foolish, John. The clone is attempting to manipulate you-"
"And you're not?" John didn't let the gun waver. "I've reached... an agreement... with the neural clone. I don't know if I'm ever gonna be able to do the same with you. And if I were you I wouldn't hold my breath till I turn blue, you know?"
"Oh, very well." Scorpius handed the spike back to Sikozu. "If you have any qualified neurotechs to examine this, you'll be able to determine that it would have done nothing other than what I claimed. Sikozu, give him the device."
"Nice and slow, Sputnik."
Sikozu came forward, slowly, obviously frightened, and just as obviously angry. "Scorpius just wants to help you, Crichton. Why can't you see that?"
"Babe, you're coming in on the middle of the movie, all right? Get someone else to update you on the rest of the show or you'll never figure out the plot." He took the neural spike from her. Of course he didn't have a qualified neurotech to examine it; Zhaan might possibly have been able to, or Jool, but Zhaan was dead and Jool had moved on. "And get out of Scorpy's cell. No one gave you visitation rights."
"I can go where I wish!"
"You can go straight out an airlock for all I care. The others will back me up on this. You don't know how dangerous he is, and you're going to get the rest of us frelled up majorly if you don't listen."
"Go, Sikozu," Scorpius said quietly. "I would not be the cause of friction between you and the crew of Moya."
"The friction is obviously already there," Sikozu sneered. "But very well. I'm not such a fool as to argue with a gun."
She stalked out of the cell. John backed out, still holding the gun trained on Scorpius, until he was all the way out of the cell and the door was shut.
Harvey was still in the chair. Crying.
"Harv? What the hell?"
He looked up at John, his face streaked with tears, but he was smiling. "You didn't do it. You didn't kill me, John. I really thought you were going to."
"You know, Harvey, you're not real. You can't actually die because you aren't actually alive."
"I'm alive to me. And to you. Does anything else matter?"
"I guess not." He put a hand on Harvey's head. "Look, don't cry, Harvey, you look ridiculous."
"I know," Harvey sniffled. "It's more ridiculous than you think. Scorpius can't cry. Scarrans have no tear ducts."
"So how come you can do it?"
"Because I'm not Scorpius. I'm as much you as I am him. Don't you know that?"
"I... never thought about it much, to tell the truth." John took a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry. I can't stand being stuck like this, with someone else constantly in my head. If I had a way to get you out of here safely... but you're right. I was wrong. I shouldn't kill you just because I don't want you in my head. You've... you have stuck by me through some pretty rough stuff, and you've helped. A lot. I just... You hurt Aeryn once. I thought you might do it again."
"That's what Scorpius was hoping you'd think. So you'd go through with it, and let him destroy me."
"Yeah, I can see that now. Look." He let go. "I'm not awfully used to being propositioned by guys, particularly ones who live in my head and look like Scorpius. And I don't love you. I love Aeryn, and that isn't going to change. No matter how much sometimes I wish it could..."
"I know, John. I know."
"But... we are stuck together. And you've... I guess you really have been a good friend to me. Even if you did call me a schmuck when I was dying."
"I was trying to get you angry enough to stay alive."
"Yeah, but it didn't work. I don't work that way." He shook his head. "Doesn't matter anyway. We've been through the trenches together. You helped keep me alive long enough for Elack and his Pilot to find me, when I was running out of air. Helped me stop Scorpy's wormhole research. So... I guess we are buddies. Or something like that."
Harvey lifted his head to look at John. The tears had stopped. "Do you mean that?"
"Yeah." It still shocked him that Harvey had claimed to be in love with him. Perhaps the clone was just saying whatever he thought would save his life... but he didn't think so. It almost hadn't helped; he'd been shocked and weirded out so much by the idea that it had almost worked against Harvey. The idea still weirded John out, though he supposed he could understand it a little. He'd never before thought of what it meant to be Harvey. It had to be rough, being trapped in someone's head, no control over the body or its future, no contact with any but one person. For John, that would be hell. The fact that Harvey had carved out a life he actually found enjoyable in such circumstances... well, he'd never thought of Harvey as enough of a person to think about it before, but he had to respect that now that he was thinking about it. "Yeah, I do."
"Well, then." Harvey stood up, and smiled. "John, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
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