The Three Amigos
Note: In this story, at the end of an AU DWTB, John goes with Chiana and Rygel instead of getting left behind alone in his module. In the interests of reducing complications in my little AU, Noranti hasn't shown up yet, so John doesn't know about the baby.
Prologue: Separation Anxiety
"Why do you not at least leave it here?"
"Because I may never get back here, and I need it," John said irritably. Everyone constantly told him how worthless his module was, but for all the faults they saw in it, it could do what a Prowler couldn't--carry someone safely through a wormhole. Namely, him.
"Okay," D'Argo said, backing off, and continuing to help him roll the craft into the transport cargo bay. "But you cannot honestly be considering going off with Rygel and Chiana."
"Yeah, D--they're the ones that asked."
"Hey," D'Argo grabbed his arm and swung him around to look at him. "I haven't asked because I know you don't approve of what I am doing, but Jool, Moya and Pilot would be more than happy to have you stay, and if you're willing to look past my mission, you're welcome to come with me as well."
John smiled at him, and punched him playfully on the arm. "Thanks, man--but I gotta go keep Chiana and Buckwheat out of trouble. Besides, with Chiana, it'll have to be fun."
"That's what worries me," D'Argo said sternly. "You and Chiana have an odd sense of fun."
"Well, we'll have Rygel around to make sure we stay grounded," John said--trying not to laugh at the ludicrousness of the thought.
D'Argo sighed dramatically. "I'll never see any of you three again, will I?"
John knew he was joking, but things seemed to become real at the thought, and he looked away. "Arnessk," he said firmly. "We're all going to meet at Arnessk." Maybe even Aeryn, he thought, though he didn't dare voice it out loud--it was far too easy to jinx things in the Uncharted Territories.
"Arneesk," D'Argo repeated, turning back to push the module further into the cargo bay of the pod. "Just be there."
"We will be."
When his module was secure, John stood looking at it while D'Argo walked away. He could still hear Aeryn's voice in his head though he was trying to forget, and she kept whispering 'Yesterday.'
He kept telling himself to keep going. He had gone without Aeryn before, when she had left with the other he had been convinced he would have no chance with her any longer, and it turned out he had been right. The other John Crichton may have died, but he took the key to Aeryn's heart with him when he did.
They were just yesterday now. And Aeryn had left before he could show her that they didn't have to be.
"If you're gonna zone the whole time we're gone, maybe you shouldn't come."
The wry voice pulled him from his thoughts and he grinned, turning to see Chiana smiling at him from the doorway of the transport.
"You would miss me too much," he said playfully, because it felt good to play, and Chiana was the only one that knew how.
"Oh, I think I'd manage," she said with a laugh. "After all, you're more trouble than you're worth, and it's going to be hard enough to find my brother without a Peacekeeper look-a-like tagging along."
"I'll stay out sight," he said lightly. "You and Spanky can do all the 007 stuff. I just need to get away. I have to think, and I don't--"
"You don't want to be alone," Chiana said softly. "Hey, you aren't, got it? Never alone, Crichton, not as long as we've got each other."
He smiled at her sadly. "I knew there was a reason why you're my favorite traveling companion."
She smiled brightly, and his own smile became lighter because of it. She didn't smile as much lately, none of them did, and it was good to see it now. "That's right," she said. "And this is going to be fun. We'll find my brother, and then we'll all go to Hyneria, and kill Rygel's despot cousin, have a party--"
John looked at her with disbelief, but she ignored him. She knew very well things wouldn't go that smoothly, that they wouldn't get everything if they got any of it all, but she needed to dream for the moment and aside from the look he threw her, Crichton did nothing to shatter it.
"Right," he said. "Sounds like a plan."
"Oh don't say that," Rygel said as he flew in on his thronesled. "Your plans never work."
"This is Chiana's plan, slug man," Crichton said with a grin.
Rygel gave a look of distaste. "That's worse."
Chiana put on an offended façade that caused John to look away so he wouldn't laugh, and she marched up to grab Rygel cruelly by the ear. "Listen, toad, my plans always work."
He glared at her and flew away. "You're fahrbot, you couldn't plan your way out of a paper bag."
John winced. "Hey, Sparky--please don't try and use my expressions."
"Yeah," Chiana said with a nod. "I'm the only one that gets 'em right."
"Maybe we shouldn't let them go after all. I think they might kill each other."
The three of them spun around to see Jool standing at the edge of the bay with her arms crossed, and a mock-stern expression on her face. Beside her, D'Argo watched them silently.
"What you talking about, Princess?" John asked, with another of his many put-on accents, "We're the three amigos." He threw one arm around Rygel's neck, and the other Chiana's waist, before grinning innocently at his other two friends.
"Amigos? I don't want to know," Rygel said.
"I do," Chiana whispered huskily, letting her hand slip a little farther down than his waist.John quickly grabbed the afore-mentioned hand to stop its downward progress. "Friends," he said forcefully. "It means friends."
"Definitely shouldn't let them leave," D'Argo muttered, before stalking over to them. He looked at them each intently. "Can I count on you all to come back in one piece?"
"You'd think he doesn't trust us," Chiana muttered in John's ear.
D'Argo glared at her. "I don't."
Rygel was highly insulted. "I am a Dominar--" Rygel started, but he was cut off when John's hand clamped over his mouth.
"Not the Dominar speech," he said. "Not now. We've all heard it. We know."
"John," D'Argo interrupted.
"You've got to stop worrying, buddy," he said. "You're gonna go grey."
D'Argo seemed confused. "Why would I turn grey?" he asked, at the same time Chiana demanded, "What's wrong with grey?"
"Never mind," he said with a wave of his hand. "The point is, Scorpius is done for--finito, got his pink-slip and he is out of the job. We'll be fine."
D'Argo seemed to decipher the meaning in the incompressible ranting, as he had been forced to learn to do, and he shook his head. "You attract more trouble than just Peacekeepers."
This was, unfortunately, absolutely correct--and John had no real defense. "Well, so do you," he said.
D'Argo glared at him, but he could think of nothing to say to that either.
"Would you two stop bickering?" Chiana asked, exasperated. "We're all going to be fine, and we're going to meet at Arneesk so we can all sit around and watch Jool play in the dirt. It'll be great.""I do not 'play' in the dirt," Jool said haughtily.
"Whatever, Princess," Chiana said with a grin.
"If we're going to leave," Rygel said affectedly, "I suggest we go now."
John nodded. "For once, I agree with ya, Ryge." He turned to face D'Argo and Jool, and gave a sly little smile. "We already said our good-byes to Moya and Pilot, so I guess that just leaves you two." He sighed shakily and then grinned again. "Who would have thought we'd all end up actually caring about each other, huh?" he asked.
"Speak for yourself," Rygel muttered, but he fooled none of them.
John reached out to take hold of D'Argo's arm, and met his eyes. "Take care of yourself, man," he said.
"Always. Don't get yourself captured, maimed, or mind-frelled," he demanded."I'll do my best, but that's asking a lot," he said, before turning away with a grin to face Jool. He grabbed her hand. "You're very annoying, Jool," he said fondly. She rolled her eyes, but he ignored her and kissed her on the forehead. "But I kinda like ya."
"Just stay out of trouble," she demanded. "I want your help on Arneesk. You have...unique insights."
"I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," he said in mock-surprise, and she grinned at him and squeezed his hand before letting go.
John stepped back and looked at Chiana, giving her the cue to go ahead with her own good-byes, but she looked like she didn't know where to turn.
D'Argo sighed and moved forward, making the first move. "Take care of yourself, Chiana, and try to stay out of trouble."
She looked up and flashed a quick-silver grin. "But I like trouble."
He placed a hand on her cheek, and watched her with sad eyes. "Just stay alive."
"Always," she said. "Surviving is what I do best."
When he moved away, Chiana walked slowly over to Jool. "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I'm going to miss your whining, Princess."
"Well don't expect me to miss you," she said, but she was smiling and there were tears in her eyes when she spoke. And when Chiana grinned ruefully and moved to turn around Jool grabbed her in a hug. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"But that would suck out all the fun right out of the trip," Chiana whispered with a shaky laugh, and Jool pulled away to meet her eyes.
"Just be careful. I want to see you on Arneesk too."
They all stepped away from each other and turned to look at Rygel expectantly.
"What?" he asked. "Don't expect any of this sentimental dribble from me." But they weren't imagining it when they thought he sounded sad. "Farewell, my friends!" he said with his most regal voice. "Take care."
And then he was gone, flying into the transport on his thronesled, and there was nothing left for any of them to do but leave.
Chiana grabbed John's hand, and they followed Rygel without looking back.
Next Up: Part One: Bonnie and Clyde