Disclaimer: Farscape characters and situations owned by the Jim Henson Company.

Thanks to: Andraste, for beta-reading; Hobsonphile, for organizing the Rygelthon.

Written for: Reblog. The request was for Crais and Rygel on board Talyn.

Timeline: Post- Choice, pre- Fractures, third season.


DEALING

Rygel was hungry, which by itself was not unusual. What was unusual was the lack of foresight he had shown on Valdon, never thinking once to bring some new supplies for himself on board. Which just went to prove that the mixture of madness and mysticism on the planet must have affected him more deeply than he has assumed.

There wasn't a genuine kitchen on board Talyn, Crais being the sort who thought field rations were the height of Peacekeeper cuisine. Rygel had lobbied for clearing some space for a proper kitchen, but as usual, nobody had seen the wisdom of his suggestions. Well, Crichton had given it a moment or two, mumbling something about them maybe having a "barbecue", until Rygel had made the mistake of mentioning too early that this would make Crichton the ship's cook. (And really, who else? Stark would be liable to poison them all by mistake, Crais by intention, Aeryn would have killed Rygel for the suggestion, and since such a menial task was clearly below a Dominar, that left Crichton.) Which had led to some incomprehensible chatter about not being someone named Long John Silver. It was a relief all the babble had ended, Rygel thought. It was, too.

He steered towards Aeryn's room, telling himself he was simply searching for any leftover meals, not that Aeryn was in a state to eat much. If he should happen to persuade her to consume something after all, it would be simply because he needed company. After weeks of sharing a room with the one-eyed lunatic, he had longed for solitude, and he couldn't quite understand why it felt so empty now said lunatic was gone.

Then he saw the door of Aeryn's quarters opening, and Crais leaving, which changed his plans. He wasn't quite sure what to make of Crais' recent announcement about leaving Talyn once they were reunited with Moya. Actually, he wasn't quite sure what to make of Crais in general these days. Sometimes, he longed for either the obsessed Peacekeeper who was chasing them and could be relied upon never to be so inventive about it as Scorpius had proved to be, or his fellow survivor who had done an excellent job getting both of them out of Scorpius' clutches in return for asylum on Moya, but whom he would never, ever have trusted for a second. The third version of Crais showed such a strange mixture of emotion and common sense that one never knew which had the upper hand. Well, it was certainly not common sense that had Crais trying to talk to Aeryn now, of all the times. At least Rygel assumed Crais had been going for conversation. The man wasn't enough of a glutton for punishment to... was he?

Crais saw him, but made no move to evade him. Well, Crais' own quarters were behind Rygel. The Hynerian decided that Aeryn probably really wouldn't appreciate another visitor, let alone share meals with one, and that it couldn't hurt to sound Crais out about his intentions.

"You know," he said, turning his sled around as Crais, with a blank, non-descript expression, passed him, "you should have killed that harridan the first time. She was never going to keep a bargain. Utterly mad, that one."

He still felt Xhalax Sun's knife in his belly sometimes, more often than he cared to admit. She hadn't been inventive about it as Durka had been, but then, he had known Durka would never kill him, not with all the satisfaction Rygel provided. For Xhalax, on the other hand, his survival, or even pain, had not mattered. Nothing had mattered but her daughter.

"Was she?" Crais said distantly. "She got what she wanted, in the end. Which is more than you can say for any of us."

"I wouldn't know what she wanted," Rygel replied pointedly, "since I wasn't the one negotiating with her. Repeatedly."

Crais gave him a look. "As I said before, you're not a child. It made sense to bargain with her, at the time. You know that."

"What I'd like to know is what you bargained with. Now if it were me in your position, I'd have offered her Crichton in exchange for reporting Talyn and the rest of us destroyed. Knowing you, you probably did that, too, but with the wrong Crichton in the offering, eh? If Xhalax had been sane enough to have her priorities straight, that is."

"If Crichton had been captured, Aeryn would have insisted on freeing him," Crais said tiredly, neither confirming nor denying he had made such a bargain.

"Mm. But if it had been the Crichton on Moya, she wouldn't have known. Who knows, she might even have been secretly relieved. One true Crichton, and so on. And since I don't want to recreate with her, it wouldn't have bothered me that this would have left her with him."

"If all I wanted..." Crais began; then he abruptly fell silent and hastened his steps, clearly not intending to continue the conversation. This wouldn't do. As far as Rygel was concerned, there were exactly two things that kept Crais from selling them out, neither of them having to do with enlightened self-interest, which was a pity. And Crais had already declared he intended to abandon Talyn, which left Aeryn.

"Look," he said, keeping up with Crais, "what's done is done. I know you Sebaceans are a short-lived species, but even so, she'll get over it."

He was prepared to add a heart-warming speech on the fact Talyn needed Crais as well to keep the Captain emotionally invested, but thankfully, this humiliation turned out not to be necessary. Crais murmured:

"Her mother never did."

"That woman was crazy."

"Do you have any idea how rare it is for a Peacekeeper to know their own family?" Crais asked, his face closed off. Rygel recalled something about Crichton, back when there was only one Crichton, mentioning Crais had not been born into the Peacekeepers, had been drafted together with his brother as a child.

"I haven't seen any of my offspring in decades, thanks to you and your predecessors," Rygel stated, suddenly impatient with the Sebacean tendency to brood. "You don't see me hunting people and yowling dren because of it."

Actually, he didn't like to think of his offspring at all. It would be just like Bishnar to have them raised as servants, or have them killed before they ever left the pool. In any case, they wouldn't understand. They wouldn't comprehend how a Dominar could let himself be duped, deposed and sold by his cousin, and it wouldn't help to point out that Rygel had not allowed anyone else to fool him since, while honing his skills in the art himself.

No, it was fruitless to think of them. Even worse than thinking of...

"We should never have gone to that planet," he said angrily, recalling the name of a dead woman spoken out loud among all the irritating whispers.

"No, we shouldn't," Crais agreed. For a while, they were silent together, and it did not feel hostile. Rygel could hear the subsonic hum of Talyn. Given the temperament Talyn had shown so far, he didn't want to imagine what the young ship would do if Crais actually did leave. With any luck, he'd be back on Moya by then, and Moya would be far away. But then, their luck had always been in somewhat short supply.

"As you have said," Crais resumed, with just a trace of the sardonic patience he used to show towards Stark, "what's done is done."

"You should stick with your bargain," Rygel said, stroking his moustache. For the first time, Crais looked confused. "Our bargain," Rygel clarified. "When you offered me an alliance so we could escape from Scorpius. It wasn't really sanctuary on Moya you wanted, was it? It was Talyn. That was a clever deal. You should stick with what you got out of it."

They had arrived at Crais' quarters. For a moment, Rygel thought Crais would pretend not to have heard him, but then the Captain turned and nodded, briefly, before the door shut behind him. It wasn't until then that Rygel recalled he was hungry, and that Crais might have had some food.

Still, he wasn't completely dissatisfied. If things hadn't become better, he had at least no reason to suspect they'd get worse. And that was not such a bad state to be in.