Starlight danced across the street walks, and she could see the four moons surrounding the sky like a crown reflecting in the water. The glow seemed to bathe her skin until she was almost as bright as they were, and it was beautiful, but she could do nothing but wish for the sun.
D'Argo would have loved it here. He would have been smiling all the time, so unlike the warrior he pretended to be, and he would have been doing everything he could to make her happy, to make her smile too. And if he had been here, she thought it might have worked.
If ever she was going to settle down, live that simple life he was always dreaming for, it would have been with him. But he was gone. And the life that had always scared her terrified her without him.
Rygel would give her anything. He would let her live anywhere, build her anything, give her whatever she asked for. Everything she used to want seemed like nothing now, so she didn't ask for a thing.
John, Aeryn and their baby were still here, Moya playing in the space nearby until they were ready to leave. She knew enough about them to know they were only here for her. There was nothing they could do, and she tried to stay away, because they finally had everything they wanted--and she didn't want to ruin that by reminding them of all they had lost to get it.
John tracked her down sometimes anyway, making her smile somehow even when all she wanted to do was cry. But he was a safety net she could no longer afford, because he would not be staying here forever, and this time, she wasn't going to follow. She didn't know yet what she was going to do, but she knew there was no going back to how things had been.
Rygel had a piece of land ready for her. Flawless. Water spreading all around a home with a kind of beauty about it she could not have even imagined when she'd been living on her colorless world. It was perfect, but even perfect was not enough, and she knew she wouldn't stay.
She couldn't stay in one place. The closest she had ever managed was Moya, but since Moya never stayed in one place, she figured that didn't count.
D'Argo had so wanted to find that one place with her, to stay somewhere together forever and be happy and safe. She'd only been humoring him, though at the end, she had been sure she would end up wanting it too if only for him. It was lost without him, and she couldn't live his dream alone.
She watched herself dance through ripples on the smooth surface, her reflection distorted and muted, held still behind moving glass. Her eyes were not her own. If she thought hard enough, she could see through the water to the ground. She got down on her knees and stared into the pond, watching ripples rolling like echoes as rain drops fell silently from the sky.
It was a nice dream, this life D'Argo had wanted. She would have been happy.
She held out a hand, felt the cold water give beneath the pressure, saw a flicker of something living flee under the surface. It would be easy to give up now the dream was lost. It wasn't her own but now it was attainable she realized she had wanted it all along, and it would easy to stop fighting for anything new. To stay here and gather whatever pieces of it she could before there was nothing left and she was truly alone.
But she was a survivor if she was anything, and if she stayed here, she would lose herself to him.
They all wanted her to stay. Rygel watched her sadly, he had more compassion now he had everything he wanted, and he wanted her happy like him. John and Aeryn, she could see the guilt in their eyes, because they had each other and they were planning to leave--but they didn't want to leave her behind and she wouldn't go with them.
And they had known before she had that she wouldn't stay.
Chiana closed her eyes and placed her hands on the earth, this planet seemed to have a pulse. She had not known what she was expecting, but she had not thought Hyneria would be so beautiful. She supposed she had pictured swamps and not the crystal waters, the fields sprinkled with flowers that opened only for the sun.
She had heard John joke in passing that it would be the perfect place to raise a child, if there weren't billions of Rygels wandering around. She almost wished they would stay, because she wanted them safe and here Rygel could protect them for a change. They wouldn't stay either, but she knew they had promised to come back.
The moons crawled one by one down the sky, and Chiana sat silently by the water, waiting for them to disappear. She rarely slept anymore. D'Argo visited her there, but she didn't want to see him, because he was never there when she woke and it was breaking her heart.
Instead she spent her nights in Rygel's garden, counting the stars, waiting for the sun to come up. She loved the skies here during the day, blue like Crichton's eyes, and there were never any clouds casting shadows down on the land. Hyneria's pulse beat steadily and Chiana let her eyes wander to the flowers around her. Small and white, rare, Rygel had assured her. He was the only one that had them.
It didn't seem right, she decided. Everyone should be able to see them.
The light spread slowly around her and she smiled faintly, watching as the harsh glow eventually erased her reflection with its glare and everything around her started waking. She had to go today, she decided. One more sunrise and she might never leave.
She heard footsteps on the stone path winding around the other side of the water, and she didn't have to look up to know who it was. She heard the subtle sound of creaking leather, saw in her mind Crichton kneeling down so he could meet her eyes across the pond--and so she looked up to meet his.
He smiled at her sadly. "You were here all night."
It wasn't a question so she doesn't answer. "You're up early," she said instead.
"I heard someone complaining to Rygel about the pretty lady that wouldn't leave the garden," he said wryly.
She broke out into a reluctant smile and lowered eyes. "I'm leaving today."
He sighed, ran a hand through his hair. She shivered slightly and shook the remnants of rain from her hair.
"I was wondering when you would," he said quietly. "I don't suppose you know where you're going, but I expect you to write."
She smiled again and looked back up. "We don't have FedEx in the Uncharted Territories, Crichton."
He laughed. "You watched too much TV."
"I'll be back here," she said finally. "Someday. Until then...who knows?"
"You can come with us," he offered softly. "We could use a baby-sitter."
Chiana laughed. "Nice try, Crichton," she said. "But I have to go. You know that. Rygel has given me tons of currency pledges, so I'll be alright."
"Are you going to try and find Nerri?"
Chiana sighed. "I'm hoping for something to find me."
She heard Crichton run a hand through his hair again. Three feet of water between them and he didn't know what to do with his hands. He couldn't fix this by holding her while she cried, he couldn't make this better and she wouldn't let him if he could. Not this time.
"He wouldn't want you to kill yourself, Pip," he whispered. "Promise me you'll be careful."
There was so much pain in the words that she shivered again. He was hurting too. She wasn't the only one that missed D'Argo, and now she was going to make him miss her too. "I was never what he wanted," she whispered.
"That isn't true," John said firmly. "He loved you, Chiana, you have to believe that."
"He loved me," she said. "But I was never what he wanted me to be, Crichton. I tried. But I wasn't."
"You would have been, for him."
"That's the irony, isn't it," she said with a laugh. "I'm finally at the place that I would want the same things, and he isn't here anymore."
Blue skies now and all she could see was pain. Sunlight opened up the flowers and she felt just the same, cloaked in night and echoes. She got to her feet, tears in her eyes as she looked over at Crichton.
He glanced up at her sadly. "You come back," he said tightly.
She laughed and backed away. "I always come back, Crichton."
His gaze didn't waver and she held in the tears, smiling at him before she spun around and walked to the gates of the garden. There was a transport at the end of the road, filled with what little she had. She could feel him watching her walk away, and she looked up towards the sky, smiling as the sun painted her over with its warmth.
She didn't know where she was going, but she knew she would be back. She would find her own dream, and for D'Argo, she would make it come true.