Picket Fences

Note: Just more of the same--this one is kind of a counterpart to Turnabout. John's side of things.

Pieces of a hundred broken songs played in the back of his mind, the words slipping away every day he was lost here, until it would finally reach the point that nothing was left but shattered melodies and he could remember none of the lyrics at all. It was something of home, though, and the parts he could still remember comforted him for now.

He was sitting in the middle of an empty hallway, his back against Moya and the pulse of her pounding in time with the symphonies in his mind. Scorpius had his quarters only two turns down--which made this the perfect place to hide. No one would suspect he would get even this close to Scorpius without dire need.

He couldn't face the others right now. Aeryn least of all. Seeing her had been painful enough the last weekens, without adding to it the vision of her falling silently to her death--from a shot he had never fired, but he had come so close to...

He would have killed her, killed the child she was carrying, and if D'Argo hadn't tackled him there would have been nothing he could have done to stop it. And Aeryn, she wouldn't have screamed. She hadn't screamed when he'd knocked her out of the sky, sent her falling without a prayer into a layer of deadly ice.

Why did fate keep conspiring against them? Why was it, that every time they were so near happy it tore them apart again? The first time Aeryn told him she loved him, he'd killed her the same day, and the next time, she didn't say it to him but his twin, and he had died. Then Aeryn had left him behind, seeing him as a reminder of what she had lost and not for what he really was--but she had come back now, and now he was the one walking away.

He pulled out a lakka bulb, and spun it between his fingers. He hadn't trusted her, he wasn't sure if he did even now. She seemed to have a way of breaking his heart without meaning to, and he knew he'd done the same often enough to her.

And then today, when they had beat the odds again and had been lying there together alive--he had forgotten why he had been pushing her away. Pushing her away didn't keep them safe from each other, it didn't keep them safe from anything--it only caused them heartache in all the moments between, when it was quiet enough to think.

He needed her, and if their lives were easy, he would let go again. Risk his heart again for her, because he knew now he had little choice. Aeryn leaving hadn't made things better, hadn't allowed her to forget--and walking away from her now, it didn't help him either. The lakka helped during the days but at night she still haunted him, every night he could see that wedding he had dreamed the day she had left him. Sometimes it ended with a honeymoon. Sometimes with a massacre.

Their lives weren't simple. With a shake of his head he inhaled the lakka, watched Aeryn fade away again and then leaned back against the wall. He would forgive her now, if their lives were simple.

Scorpius made them complicated.

John slammed one of his palms on the ground, then agitatedly covered his face with his hands. He couldn't stop taking the lakka, even if now he was sure he didn't want to forget her. Scorpius would know. John couldn't hide it without help. Scorpius would realize, and then there would be no stopping him. Because if Scorpius knew, if he understood what Aeryn meant and used her to get to him, John would give him what he wanted.

He saw her, falling backwards with a pulse blast, trapped in a cockpit with Scorpius, screaming as he jammed a needle into the back of her neck, he saw her with a piece of wedding cake. He shook his head and grabbed for more lakka. Once was never enough anymore.

The second dose calmed him some, but it didn't take away the question burning in the back of his mind. How was it that he had now tried to kill the person he loved more than anything three times? And he had succeeded once.

No recriminations as she fell, but he had known she was crying. Could hear it in her voice when she told him she had meant it when she told him she loved him. Even if she had been speaking to Harvey at the time, even if it hadn't really been him saying it back.

At least when they'd all gone crackers, and he had been Harvey, and this time, they were both trying to kill each other. He didn't know why that made it better, but he knew if he ever succeeded again, Aeryn had better take him with her. There was no point to staying behind.

He'd told Aeryn once a long time ago, that if Harvey had taken over again, or if Scorpius had captured him--to shoot to kill. It was a hard request to manage, but he hadn't realized what he was asking until now.

Even though this time like the last, it wasn't in his control, and his hands weren't listening as he screamed for them to pull away--he knew killing her would still kill him too. There were no picket fences in the Uncharted Territories, no safe place to live sane little happy lives. Love here was dangerous, and so often seen only as something to be used against you.

He wouldn't let Scorpius use it against him. Aeryn had been thrown into the line of fire enough times because of him, and he made a promise to himself now, that she would not be another sacrifice made for the love of him.

He may be getting dangerously near letting everything go, closer than he was ready for to forgive her and try to start some kind of life--but he couldn't let her know it, because he couldn't let Scorpius know. And he had no doubts Scorpius would know, if he didn't already and just didn't understand what it meant.

He knew he was hurting Aeryn, he could see it in her painful smiles and the way she looked at him every time he looked away, but he would rather she grew to hate him than see her as a pawn in one of Scorpius's games. He would rather be dead himself than to watch her die again because of him.

Until things changed, he couldn't let Aeryn know again that he loved her. Every time they said it the sky fell, and he couldn't risk it with Scorpius lurking around their one safe haven. He would risk it again later, when Scorpius was finally out of their lives, and it wouldn't matter what happened then--not so long as they could be together.

But things had not changed yet, so he let the empty shells of the drugs slip from his fingers to the ground, placed his head in his hands and hummed It Had to Be You just to see if he still could. And underneath the melody he could hear Scorpius whisper and Aeryn scream, because there were some parts of his imagination even the lakka could not keep silent.

The End.