Slide

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Setting: Right before Prefect Murder.

Notes: This is pretty much a sequel to Traveling Companions, but the only thing you need to know is that Chiana knows John is taking the lakka. I don't know what it is about John and Chiana's relationship in season four that I love so much, but there was just something there that grabbed me…I had always been a John and Chiana fan, but I loved them in season four. They're both so endearingly screwed up.

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Chiana lifted her chin as she stalked down the hall. Maybe she was being unreasonable. Maybe she was irresponsible. That didn't give Sikozu the right to tell her so. And yes, maybe she had overreacted, but the sound of her head slamming against Moya's corridor had been so satisfying, and Sikozu wasn't hurt. There was something odd about that girl--she barely seemed to bruise, and what was with the reattaching limbs, anyway?

A hand reached out behind her, grabbing her arm, and even when she recognized the warm grip her momentum was too far advanced to stop and she swung around, her arm striking out. John caught her wrist and pushed her against the wall in one quick move. She was reminded briefly of Elack, of dark decaying halls and shadows as John held her secure and made her tell her secrets, she was reminded of minutes before, slamming Sikozu and pinning her, the way he was pinning her, as she had whispered not to play with fire.

It was one of John's expressions, one of the few she understood.

"What is with you?" His voice was soft and exasperated, but not accusing. She held onto that even as she tried to pull her wrists free. "You nearly knocked Sikozu out," he said, sounding harsher now. "Chiana--"

"No one gets away with talking to me like that," she hissed.

He rolled his eyes. "You let Rygel get away with it. You could cut her some slack--her whole life is in pieces."

Chiana laughed and met his eyes, no longer fighting his hold so much as she was leaning into it. "And we're all so well put together, then?"

"Touché," he said, with a small grin that she loved to see. She didn't even care that she had no idea what a touché was.

"Just…try to be nice, okay?" he whispered. "If I can manage not to kill Scorpius, you can manage not to kill Sikozu."

"Well, if you ask me," Chiana said. "I say we should kill them both."

"And that's why no one asks you," he said, and laughter was hiding beneath his words, but she knew he didn't really think it was funny--he agreed with her on half of it at least, even if because of Aeryn, he wasn't going to say it out loud.

"Are you going to let me go anytime soon?" Chiana purred. "Or did you have something else in mind?"

He smiled at her, unfazed. She could never make him blush anymore, but having him push back was just as much fun. He released her wrists, but she held them in air where he pinned them against the wall for a beat after, then slowly lowered them down. "Why don't you go play your games?" he asked.

He was talking about the game squibs she had collected during their time in Tormented Space, but it was easy enough to pretend like she thought he was talking about something else. "This is my favorite game," she said, wrapping her hands around his waist, and looking up at him slowly.

Amusement was sparking on the surface of his blue eyes as he looked down at her, and untangled her arms from around him. "You need a better hobby," he said, before turning and starting down the hall.

"You're telling me I need a better hobby?" she called after him, incredulous. He laughed at her and she took off on his heels, slowing only when she caught pace beside him. "Wormholes?" she snapped.

He glanced at her. "Wormholes are a great hobby. Educational."

"Obsessive," she said. "Maniacal."

He laughed again, and she narrowed her eyes, wondering what had put him in such a good a mood. Usually, lately, they had been in terribly horrible moods together. She reached for the small pouch at his hip, and though he frowned as she pulled it away, he didn't stop her.

"Almost empty," she said with a shake of her head. "How much of that stuff are you taking?"

He pulled the pouch from her hands. "Not a lot," he said.

Chiana frowned slightly. She was not one to judge anyone, and if John wanted a little help to be happy she did not mind, but it worried her that he was getting it from Noranti. The woman was a menace, and who knew what was in it?

"Just be careful," she said.

He grinned at her. "I'm always careful, Pip."

And she didn't believe that anymore than she did when it was her telling him, but she nodded anyway, because she knew he didn't need another one of them on his case. He already had Scorpius and Aeryn stalking his steps, and D'Argo acting all un-Luxan and mothering, she wasn't going to add herself to his list of things to avoid.

Besides, she was not a stranger to a little bit of harmless recreational drugs herself, even if she knew the lakka was anything but recreational for John--and she could see it was quickly becoming a necessity. No one else noticed, and even if it meant more trouble for John, she almost wished they would. She could never tell, he would keep the secret for her, and she would not betray him. But she was worried about it, about everything.

"You could probably use some games too," she said casually. She had only talked him into using one of her squibs once since the whole Psycho-Stark fiasco, and though he had enjoyed himself he had not asked to use them again. She knew he didn't like the vulnerability of it, she knew the whole time he was there in the game with her, he was dreaming up nightmares of what Scorpius was doing out here.

"Maybe some other time," he said, but she did not believe him. "I have to work on my module."

There was absolutely nothing left for him to do on his module, she knew, because she went to watch him work sometimes and all there was left for him to work on was the fading paint, but for some reason, he wouldn't fix that even though he could. They had been here too long, Chiana decided, trapped in this space that tortured both Moya and them. They had done everything, and there was nothing left now but to go slowly mad. Same as Elack seemed to inspire in them.

She didn't call him on it, though, as she followed him to the docking bay, and he crawled into the cockpit to fiddle with the controls. She leaned up against the side of it, cool metal biting at her back, and watched the doorway for demons, ready to do what she could to protect him. She pushed the truth of their situation to the back of her mind, the fact that none of them would ever be able to protect him from anything, and braced herself to fight whatever she could.

The restless clicks sounded constantly behind her, but she didn't turn around. The silence of anything but those small clicks seemed to fill the space around them until John finally broke it, his hands stopping their tireless movement as he leaned back with a sigh.

"Did you ever think about having kids?" he asked quietly.

Chiana froze. She knew where this was going, what this was, and it was something she preferred not to think about. She tried to play it off. "Are you making an offer?" she asked slyly, but her eyes, that he couldn't see, were sad.

He didn't give into her like he sometimes did, and she wondered when he spoke again, if he had heard her at all. "I have a daughter somewhere, you know. Inside of a statue."

She knew. She didn't like to think about that either. She wished he didn't think about it. There was nothing to be done, it would be pointless to destroy himself over something that couldn't be changed.

He laughed. "It wasn't exactly like I had pictured," he said.

She knew that this, with Aeryn, was probably not much closer.

"I don't even know if its mine," he said, and she knew he was no longer talking about Katralla. He sounded so broken she forgot all her concerns about the lakka, wished he would force himself to take some more, to take away the hurt in his voice and the pain she would see if she turned around to meet his eyes.

She doesn't tell him, but she knew. Aeryn probably didn't even know for sure, but she did, and it was his child. There was no doubt in her mind, though she didn't know how she was so sure, because there was a part of her that really wished it wasn't. And she doesn't tell him, because she doesn't know if it would help.

Slowly, reluctantly, she turned around. He was inside of his small ship, his head in his trembling hands, and she could tell the lakka had worn off--abandoned him and left him like this. He didn't have much left, and she wondered what he would do when it was gone. If Noranti could make more or if that was it, and all of that hope he built up within it would slip away along with the ground beneath his feet.

She felt helpless. She wanted to fight away everything that had hurt him, but then there would be nothing left. She slipped into the seat behind him, and wrapped her arms around his neck. He leaned back and she placed her cheek against his. If this was the only thing she could offer that he would accept, she would stay sitting there forever.

The End...? Maybe. I'm thinking of probably adding more to this, maybe making a small series starting with Traveling Companions, but I had a few directions I could go in and I wasn't sure which to pick, so I decided to leave it here for now.