Out of Reach

Note: This was actually a scene I started as part of another fic I'm working on, but decided didn't work, so I cut it out and made it a mini-fic of its own...

A lone figure was suspended by the stars outside. Aeryn stood watching, in the center of command. She felt strange now, she had ever since she had come back. She felt she didn't belong anymore. It was odd, really, that she felt out of place now, when she had finally become more like the rest.

In the past she had been so closed off, always so scared, but even in the midst of all of the confusion she had belonged. Because it was in the past, back before she had died, back before he had, that John had still looked at her like he loved her and that was enough to make her feel home.

"Everybody watches him." Aeryn showed no reaction at the sly, sardonic words. "I can't quite figure out why."

"Is that why you watch him too?" Aeryn asked softly, turning slightly so she could see the red hair in the corner of her eye.

Sikozu tilted her head back, absently playing with the ends of a curl. "Yes," she said. "Why do you?"

Aeryn turned back towards the window, where John was EVA, in front of another of his wormholes. "Why don't you go sit beside Scorpius's cell, Sikozu? He seems to be the only one that can stomach you."

Sikozu seemed unfazed by the less than subtle implication. "It's obvious why Chiana watches him, of course. For all his deficiencies he's very attractive and to her, I imagine, there is little else that matters."

Aeryn kept her eyes locked on John, watched as he reached out a hand towards the wormhole. She wondered what he was thinking. She wondered if he thought about her at all anymore.

"Then Scorpius--well, there's something there, isn't there? Something more than simply the knowledge he possesses. Though what it is I find a complete mystery."

Aeryn hadn't figured it out either, though she wished she had remembered it was there when she had agreed to make John promise. Scorpius was different than Crais, different than all the other enemies they had made, but she had never understood why, and she had not realized what she was asking when she made him promise. But he had still done it. He had promised, only for her. That had to mean something. He had to still care.

Or maybe she had pulled her last promise from him. Maybe asking him to play nice with his worst enemy was the last he had to give.

"D'Argo, and even the Hynerian, though I find it hard to believe, seem to watch him out of concern. Mostly, they watch him when you're with him, and he's studiously not watching you."

Aeryn closed her eyes. She heard herself say yesterday. She heard his heart break.

"I haven't figured out the old woman yet. She has...motivations that are quite unclear. It seems likely she watches him only because she is insane, but Scorpius has taught me that I should not underestimate people so callously and I am reserving judgment for now."

Aeryn's fingers clenched against the console in front of her. It was worrying that Scorpius was teaching her anything at all.

"And you," Sikozu said, a grin playing across her lips. "I know why you watch him. It's the same reason he doesn't watch you."

Aeryn watched him because she loved him. Sikozu couldn't be right. John couldn't look at her without shutting down. That wasn't love.

Aeryn traced her finger across the surface of the console. Or maybe it was.

"Are you even listening to me?" Sikozu demanded, sounding a bit put-out.

Aeryn's eyes flickered back to John, and behind him she could see that swirling blue vortex. "No," she said.

She had been listening, and some of it was truer than she wanted to admit, but Sikozu would leave quicker if she believed she had not been listening at all. She could hear Sikozu spin on her heel and head out the doors in an irritated huff. Aeryn pushed away from the console and walked towards the window.

She placed her hand against the glass, wishing this wasn't as close to John as he would let her get. Her other John had said, in his last message before he died, that she took time. And she was learning something--he did too.

Aeryn closed her eyes, and outside, John's wormhole spiraled away to nothing.

The End.