Silent for Him

Summary: Tag to Kansas. Chiana/John. She remembers it like yesterday, and he doesn't even remember it right.

She wanted to mention it sometimes--more to her than to him. Just casually, in the middle of a conversation, as though it didn't mean anything to her at all. Just to see what she would do. Just to see what she would say if she knew.

But she never did.

Because doing it might hurt him and that was the last thing that she wanted. So she held her tongue, silent with her secret, and none of them were the wiser. None of them but her.

Even though he sometimes let her play her games with him, there had always been this invisible wall between them--a door to his heart only Aeryn had the power to break down, and it was so much worse to be left outside now she knew what she was missing.

His touch was just like she had imagined, gentle, curious--kind. Everything about him that mattered. And she carried that knowledge around like a burden, knowing she would never feel it that way again.

He hadn't known her when it happened, but it felt as though he had--exactly like she'd pictured, except for maybe the strange setting, the bright orange clothes, and the fact that the name he whispered was Karen and not her own. But it was the only way she would ever have him, and it would have to be enough.

She had hinted around in conversation--though she knew it was playing with fire--casually started talking about her first lover, asked about theirs. He'd said Karen Shaw with a funny little grin, and when Aeryn had looked away jealously he had said nothing else. That old woman had ruined everything with her silly powder, he had no idea it had been her.

She kept telling herself maybe he would suddenly remember, and he would come to her, needing to feel her touch again the way she needed his.

But he never did.

Karen Shaw was a nice memory, a story to tell, but she meant no more to him than that--and she couldn't even convince herself he would change his mind about that even if he knew that it had been her.

Because though John may not have forgiven Aeryn, he would. He wouldn't be able to stop himself, because for all his intelligence he was blind when it came to her. She couldn't do anything he wouldn't forgive. Aeryn was his everything, and the only way she had ever got John to look at her the way she wanted was when she had gone back in time to before he had known her.

She had always thought, secretly, that if she had met him first he would have been hers. She had been right, but it meant nothing now because none of them knew. And she couldn't tell.

She had come dangerously close to giving herself away more than once, at times unable to resist--like the time she had touched that place behind his ear she knew would make him shiver, while Aeryn watched them from across the room. He had laughed and moved away, giving her a glance like he knew exactly what she was doing and it wasn't going to work. But he didn't know. He didn't know what she did. He didn't remember it like she did.

If only he would remember, she wouldn't have to keep the secret he didn't even realize she was keeping for him. He didn't, though, and it had been a weeken since they had left his planet and returned to Moya. She kept her silence for him and he didn't know.

He never would.

There was a chance he wouldn't want to, that it was better for him this way, and that was another reason why she said nothing. It was why she never would. It was her secret, not the only one she had, but the one that was painful to keep. She took what comfort she could in the fact John had been hers before Aeryn had ever met him, he had been hers before even she had, and nothing would ever change that.

Aeryn had him now, though--he was pushing her away, he was hurt, but Aeryn still had him and everyone could see it but them. She was left alone, on the other side of his wall, where he put the people he loved differently--the safe place he put his best friend and his favorite traveling companion, and all the other people who would never have all of him.

He smiled at her now and teased her the way he had his sister on Earth, and he would touch her, but not like he had that night, not like she wanted. Distance was back between them that hadn't been there with the boy he had been, and Aeryn filled the space in-between.

It had only been weekens since he had been hers, but it was cycles for him, and he slipped further from her reach every microt--until all she had left was the memory, just like him. That and the nights, when she could lay awake and pretend she lived on a strange little planet at the wrong side of the universe, and a soft voice would whisper Karen in her ear like it was her name until morning came . . .