In Vegas

This is a companion piece to my story Better Off Forgotten, but stands alone.

xxxxx

"John, I have something I want to--" Aeryn trailed off as she caught sight of him, sitting cross-legged on his bed, and trying to hide a laaka bulb behind his back. She paused. "Show you..."

John took a shaky breath and tried for casual. "Great. What ya got?"

Aeryn stepped into his quarters, closing the doors behind her. She slammed the small Peacekeeper device in her hands on the bed beside him, and turned a dial. "This is from my prowler. It jams comm. signals. If Scorpius is listening in, he won't hear us."

"Awesome," he said with a grin, picking it up to examine it.

Aeryn crossed her arms and stared him down. "What the frell do you think you're doing?" she asked.

"What?"

Angrily, she reached behind him, pushing his hands out of the way when he tried half-heartedly to stop her. She held out the laaka bulb. "I thought we worked this out. I thought you were just trying to protect me from Scorpius. Or did you lie again?"

"I never said it was all about Scorpius. That wasn't how it started. It started because you were killing me, Aeryn, and I had to protect myself. You understand about that, don't you? You went away to protect yourself from me. This was my escape." His voice was almost scathing, and Aeryn winced.

"You don't have to protect yourself against me anymore," Aeryn whispered. "Why are you still taking it? I've already talked to that crazy old woman and she assured me that it is not physically addicting. She also assured me she would not give you anything else, which apparently we'll have to discuss again."

"I just wanted it," John said, getting up from the bed and backing up. "And it has nothing to do with forgetting you anymore, so don't worry about it."

"Oh no, John," Aeryn snapped. "This has everything to do with me."

"Contrary to popular opinion," John ground out, "Not everything in my life revolves around wormholes, or Earth, or you. Leave it alone."

"I'm trying to help you," Aeryn said tightly. "You can not keep taking this dren, it's messing with your judgment, John. If it wasn't, you wouldn't still be taking it."

"It isn't dangerous, it isn't addictive. It just helps me."

"Helps you what?" Aeryn demanded, walking towards him.

"Don't do this, Aeryn, please, god, don't do this. We're just getting where we want to be. Stop asking for what I can't tell."

"I just want to know why you feel the need to keep taking this drug," Aeryn said, walking closer. "Can't you tell me that?"

"There are things..." John said slowly, "that sometimes I like to forget. Okay?"

"No. No, it isn't okay. What things? Maldis? Scorpius? The Aurora chair? What, John?"

"Oh, don't stop there, Aeryn," John said angrily. "Why don't you list a few more of my horrible experiences?"

"I'm not trying to hurt you," Aeryn said, pausing. "I just want to know what's wrong."

"I can't tell you that," he said. He started to walk past her.

Aeryn grabbed his shoulders and slammed him against the wall. "I want you to tell me what happened to you while I was gone. On Arnessk. Anytime I ask anyone about it they get quiet, give me generalizations, vague answers that you were captured and interrogated. I want to know exactly what happened. And you're going to tell me. Now."

"What happens in Vegas . . . stays in Vegas . . . baby, you know that," John whispered slowly, before starting to pull away. "I don't ask you for details about your little stint as an assassin. Don't ask me about this."

"You will tell me," Aeryn said, slamming him back against the wall, harder this time.

John winced as his head contacted the bulkhead. "Or what? You'll hit me again?"

"I wasn't myself," Aeryn said angrily. "That isn't fair."

"Yeah. Maybe not. But we never get fair, Aeryn," he snapped. "So let me go!" He tore away from her, stumbling backwards and grabbing onto the wall to keep him steady.

"What is wrong with you?" Aeryn demanded.

"You have all kinds of secrets, Aeryn. Let me have this."

"My secrets don't drive me to take drugs, John. Whatever this is, whatever has happened to you, you obviously need to talk about it. This laaka is not going to make it go away!"

"Psychology 101 from Officer Sun, oh, this is new." John moved past her further into the room, before spinning around again to meet her eyes. "You want to be with me, right? That's what you want now?"

"Yes," Aeryn said firmly.

John smiled. "Well, you have me then. It's what I want too, and we're finally getting there, Aeryn. Things are finally starting to not be so completely screwed up. Whatever else I have going on, I promise you, I will work through on my own."

"You're not working through anything with these," Aeryn said, throwing the laaka to the ground and smashing it. "You're just suppressing."

John closed his eyes. "This isn't fair, Aeryn. It isn't fair."

"We never get fair," Aeryn said, throwing his words back at him.

John ignored her. "You wouldn't tell me. If it was something you didn't want to talk about you wouldn't tell me no matter what I did. But you know what? I wouldn't push you. If things were the other way around I wouldn't do this to you."

"Yes you would," Aeryn said. "Where do you think I learned all this stuff anyway? When I was a Peacekeeper, I was taught to do what you're doing, push things that bothered me away and forget them. You're the only reason I know that isn't the right way to handle things."

"Maybe it isn't the best way," John said. "But maybe right now, Aeryn, it's the only way. And I need you to understand that."

Aeryn took a deep breath. She thought about how he hadn't asked her continuous questions about her time away from Moya, about how he had granted amnesty to his worst enemy only because she had asked him to--she thought about all the times he had waited patiently to help her through something she couldn't handle alone.

And she would always get there eventually, and talk to him--because she trusted him. She was starting to worry that ready to forgive her or not, John might still not trust her. She should wait for him to come to her, but she really wasn't good at waiting.

"Fine, okay," she said. "I understand."

John looked so relieved that Aeryn grew even more worried about what he could possibly be hiding. But she did understand. He wasn't ready to talk, and she really should accept that.

But then, he wasn't the only one she could ask.

xxxxx

"I've ah...told you that before, remember? You, ah, you already know everything that happened."

"Chiana," Aeryn said, her voice falsely sweet. "You know you left something out. I just want to know what happened to John. He won't tell me, and D'Argo--"

Chiana winced. "And D'Argo isn't intimidated by you," Chiana said, backing away. "But, it doesn't matter. If you want to know what happened, you have to get Crichton to tell you. It isn't for me to tell."

"John won't tell me, I told you that. Besides, from what I recall, you aren't good at keeping secrets anyway."

Chiana let out an irritated breath. "I had already told someone your secret before you told me not to tell anyone, otherwise I never would have."

"So John asked you not to say anything then?" Aeryn demanded.

"Aeryn," Chiana whispered. "He didn't have to ask. It's just not something I'm going to tell."

Aeryn stepped backwards and Chiana quickly scrambled out from where she had been cornered. She started down the hall, but paused before she turned the corner. "You know, speaking from personal experience--there are some things best left forgotten. If you really love him, Aeryn, maybe you should just leave this alone."

Aeryn watched Chiana leave. Maybe she should leave it alone--but she couldn't know for sure the best way to handle any of this until she knew what was wrong. And if John had not actually asked any of them not to talk about, if they were just doing it to protect him--then that left one sure source to figure this all out.

Rygel didn't have the tact not to tell her.

Aeryn started down the hall, ready to track down Rygel, only to come up short when she saw Scorpius leaning against the wall--waiting for her.

"You're trying to get them to tell you about Arnessk," he said knowingly. "Why do you wish to know?"

Aeryn met his eyes. "None of your concern, Scorpius."

"Everything that concerns Crichton is my concern," Scorpius said, tilting his head and stepping towards her. "I will tell you . . . what you wish to know."

Aeryn narrowed her eyes. "Why would you do that?"

Scorpius ran one of his gloved hands along Moya's wall. "I have no reason not to," he said simply. Then he grinned. "And I would enjoy watching you kill Grayza the next time we encounter her. Revenge," he said, "is a powerful ally."

"Grayza?" Aeryn asked confused, before coming to stand resolutely in front of Scorpius. "Tell me."

"You have heard of heppel oil, I assume?" Scorpius asked her indolently.

It was all he needed to say.

xxxxx

Aeryn had been this angry few times--all of them, in some way, related to John Crichton. Commandant Mele-on Grayza would die. And it was not going to be quick.

She had sworn when she came back to Moya that her time as an assassin was over, that her life was John and the baby now and that was all that mattered. But her plans, like John's, rarely worked out. It seemed she was going to have one final mission before she retired.

"Aeryn, what are you doing?"

Aeryn stalked past D'Argo without a word. Walking over to her prowler, she gave it a quick once over. She threw a bag onto the seat.

"Aeryn?" D'Argo was behind her now.

"I have some business I need to see to," she said.

D'Argo frowned. "Were you planning on telling us?"

"No."

D'Argo grabbed her arm and spun her around. "Where are you going?"

Aeryn pressed her lips into a tight line.

"Aeryn," D'Argo snapped. "Does John know---I mean, if you leave again . . ."

"I'm doing this for John," Aeryn said. "I have a score to settle."

"What are you talking about?"

"I know what happened on Arnessk," Aeryn said. "What you all didn't want me to know."

"Who told you?" D'Argo growled. "Rygel is dead."

"It wasn't Rygel," Aeryn said. "And it doesn't matter. I'm glad I know. And Grayza will die for what she has done. She will never hurt him again."

D'Argo looked at her incredulously. "Have you lost your mind? If you go to Grayza's command carrier, you will lead them right back to us."

"No, no I won't. I will be careful. I will get on the command carrier undercover. I have lots of Peacekeeper identities I can take now, that I learned to assume in my time away from Moya. I can do this, D'Argo."

He grabbed her arm. "You will get yourself KILLED. At the least you will be captured, and they will make you tell them where Moya is."

"I would not," she hissed, pulling away. "I would never tell them where you are."

"They put you in the Aurora Chair, Aeryn, and they take away the choice."

"I will kill her, D'Argo, I promise you that."

"I know how you feel, Aeryn," D'Argo said softly. "Really, I do. Macton killed my wife, and I have spent cycles dreaming of nothing but his death. Then finally, I have this opportunity, this chance to get even at last--"

Aeryn paused, looking over at him. "You killed him," she said.

"No. I didn't." He met her eyes. "Because John's words kept repeating in my head and I realized I couldn't do it. It isn't me anymore, Aeryn. I don't want it to be. I sent him some messages. Some threats. Let him know I knew where he was. I decided that was enough."

"It isn't enough for me," Aeryn said.

"John--he is not going to forgive you easily. You hurt him, Aeryn, but I think he will eventually forgive you for it. There's one thing he would never forgive you for, though, and that's getting yourself killed. And if you do it in some misguided attempt to help him, well, he'll never forgive himself either. Is that what you want?"

"Frell!" Aeryn yelled, she kicked the side of her prowler and turned away from D'Argo angrily. Suddenly exhausted, Aeryn placed her hands on the prowler and leaned against it. "I should have been there, D'Argo," she whispered.

"There were a lot of things that could have been done differently," D'Argo said. "I made mistakes too, and I want Grayza dead just as much as you do. But it won't fix what I did on Arnessk, it won't change that you left--and it won't help John."

"What did you do on Arnessk?" Aeryn asked quietly.

"I made bad choices in a bad situation," D'Argo said. "The whole thing was frelled from the beginning, Aeryn, and John was caught in the middle. Just like he always is."

Aeryn remained silent, letting her forehead fall against the prowler and closing her eyes.

D'Argo sighed. "What are you going to do?" he asked.

"Nothing," she whispered, though it was a hard concession to make. "I will do nothing. At least not yet."

"We were so close," D'Argo said after a moment. "All of us, we were so close."

Aeryn didn't have to make a verbal agreement, they both knew it to be true. They had finally been rid of Scorpius, he had been out of power, they had been free. Then Grayza entered the picture and hunted them now, and Scorpius was somehow on their side, just as Crais had been the last time they had almost been free--when Crais was losing power, but Scorpius had shown up to take his place.

Whenever they beat one of their hunters, took everything from them and even left them no choice but to join their side, another simply took their place. Aeryn didn't think it would ever be over.

At least she had one small comfort. One thing she would make sure would never happen. Grayza would never be 'moving in'--as John had put it. But Aeryn would definitely see to it that she lost everything.

xxxxx

John was sitting on the floor, in the corner of his room, when she returned. He had his head buried in his arms, but she was sure he had heard her come in. Without a word, she walked in and lowered herself beside him. One light touch and he was leaning against her, his head on her shoulder and his hand in hers.

"I won't take the laaka anymore," he said quietly. "You're right. It isn't helping. Not really."

"That's good," she said.

"I would tell you if I thought I could," he whispered.

Aeryn laced her fingers through his. "It's alright, John."

"I missed you . . . I'm glad you came back."

He went still and Aeryn turned her head to find him asleep. She leaned her head against his, her lips brushing his hair.

"I wish I had never left," she whispered. And though he couldn't hear her, he knew.

The End.