I'm even more nervous about posting this part than the first one, because this is really kind of an odd story--even if it is my favorite of my stories so far. I hope you guys like it, and I want to thank you all for the reviews--the support means a lot!
Also, just a note, I'm definitely slowing down with my Farscape fic. I generally write in spurts, and I'm kind of out of steam for this fandom at the moment. I blame my sometimes partner in crime, FCOL, who has recently hooked me into the world of CSI. I still plan to finish everything, but since this ties up my only Farscape cliffhanger (not counting the crossover, which is a whole different problem) it might be awhile before I update.
He was seeing in double vision, and he didn't even care. Trippy.
The laaka couldn't do this. The laaka took away the memories for awhile, but it never held the strongest ones at bay for long, and it was taking more and more of it to make them go away at all. Maybe Chiana had the right idea. No reason to do things half way.
He laughed and Chiana smiled at him curiously, not really caring what was funny. He wasn't sure he did, either, or if he even knew. But the stars were moving faster than they were and he couldn't tear his eyes away. There was a buzzing in the back of his mind, like a dial tone, if he was remembering correctly what a dial tone sounded like, because it had been awhile since he had used a phone and he wasn't quite sure.
He didn't remember why that mattered, either, so he stopped trying to figure it out.
Moya came into view and he called for a docking web. They asked him what was the matter, but he said nothing was wrong and beside him Chiana laughed. He didn't want to fly the transport into Moya's side, because he thought he saw a docking port that wasn't there, but it was probably best none of them knew that.
He stumbled from the transport when they were safely dumped inside and the halls spiraled in front of them. It looked like he was watching them through a magic mirror at the circus -- and nothing was quite as it was supposed to be. Chiana asked him where he was going but he didn't know, so he didn't answer.
Winona was a heavy and familiar weight pressing against his thigh and he didn't know why, but he knew it was good she was there. There were demons on this ship. Or was there just the one?
He laughed again and kept walking. Through his com, he could hear Aeryn yelling his name, but he couldn't remember how to work the damn thing, so he tore it off and threw it behind him. It clattered and in his mind, he thought he saw it shatter to pieces and dissolve in the air, disappearing as the frantic voice grew distant and he backed away down the hall.
Something was wrong maybe. John placed a hand against the wall, and stared at the floor. Was Moya having a seizure? Ripples ran through her skin like it was water, and he was sure that couldn't be good. He started to ask Pilot what was wrong but realized he wasn't wearing his com. He didn't know where it could have gone.
He started walking again, but didn't know which way he was supposed to turn to get where he was going. He was going somewhere, though, he was sure. Aeryn had been calling for him, he heard her voice like an echo beating against his ears and he knew he had to find her. He ran a hand down his eyes, trying to see straight, but the blurs just became more pronounced. Fading together then fading apart.
The voice froze him to the spot. His fingers twitched, and panic began to rise within him. He pulled out Winona and spun. Scorpius stood swaying in front of him. Frowning and spinning and creepy as hell. John angrily glared him down. "Where is she?" he demanded.
"Where is who, John?"
The voice was maddeningly calm and controlled. He knew who. John wasn't sure he did, but Scorpius must. "You know…" he said, adjusting his grip on the weapon, taking a step back. "You're trying to kill me, aren't you, Scorpy Sue? That why you here? You gonna kill me?"
Scorpius tilted his head, squinted his eyes. "What have you done to yourself, John?"
John raised his chin, his finger twitching around the trigger. "Stay away from me. And her."
He backed away again, and when Scorpius took a step after him he quickly thrust his gun forward, aiming it at whatever Scorpius had in place of a heart. Scorpius's head titled again, in that curious way, and he didn't try to follow again as John fled down the hall.
Something was definitely wrong. What have you done to yourself, John? John got a flash of memory, a small black orb, like a glass marble, spinning in the middle of a grey palm. He grabbed onto the wall, wincing as a sick dizzy feeling took hold. He wondered, briefly, what his father the hero would think if he could see his son now.
He laughed, pulling out Winona. His life had been hell since he had come here. There was nothing this side of the universe for him, and every time he started to think there was it blew up in his face. His fingers tightened around the handle of his gun. He could not believe it had come to this -- that he was using drugs just so he could breathe without it hurting. He used to pity people like him on Earth.
"Tell me about wormholes…"
He closed his eyes at the voice. It sent chills like spider webs across his skin. He could face down Scorpius. He could face down the devil himself if he had to, but not her. Anything but her.
He felt the phantom of a moist hand running across his neck, and when he opened his eyes, she was there right in front of him, smiling and watching.
"Go away," he whispered.
"Oh, but you want me here," Grayza whispered. "You can't stop thinking about me."
"This is supposed to help me not think," he growled, pulling away from Grayza. He threw his hands up against his head in frustration. The hard edges of Winona dug into his temple.
"You think anything will ever help you?" Grayza hissed. "Surrender, Crichton. You won't ever win. If I die there will be another, and another, and you can run from us all but it won't stop. It won't ever stop. Eventually you'll get tired and we'll win. Why postpone it? Come to me…"
She pressed against him, her large eyes trying to pull him into the delusion, but he had one last grip on reality and he wasn't letting it go. "You lost," he whispered. "You got left tied up with your own god damn chains. You don't scare me."
"Yes I do," she said, smiling slyly. "You kept up the bravado with Scorpius but not with me. Not for long. Tell yourself you won if you want, but you know it was only luck. If that laaka hadn't walked right into your hands, you would never have willingly left mine."
He remembered waking on wet stone, realizing what D'Argo had done, realizing where he had left him without giving him a chance to prepare. He remembered giving up and waiting for them to come. Knowing, knowing there would be no getting away once she had him again. She was right. It was only luck that he wasn't still with her.
"You're right," he whispered. He could tell himself it would never happen again, but it would be empty and he knew it.
"Who are you talking to, John?"
John looked up, and his other walking nightmare came to stand beside Grayza. "Go away, Scorpius," he said.
"Who is right?" Scorpius demanded.
"Grayza," John said, sinking to the floor. He placed his head in his hands, his fingers still clenched around Winona. Faintly, he heard Aeryn's voice in the back of his mind again, calling his name.
Scorpius looked down at him. "No she isn't."
"I can't fight her," John snapped. "I can't…I can't do this anymore." He kept thinking things would get better but nothing had changed -- except for the things that had become worse.
"You can," Scorpius growled. "You will. You must. You beat her, John."
"Only because of the laaka," John said. Only because he had remembered an off-hand comment from an old woman he had barely been listening to anyway, only because that place had been crawling with that drug he had become so desperately dependent on.
When he took it no one could touch him. Aeryn couldn't hurt him just by being near him, he didn't give a damn that Scorpius was their latest houseguest, and if Grayza showed up out of thin air she wouldn't be able to control him. It was his only defense against so many things, and he didn't know if he could see a future anymore where he wouldn't need it.
"That's right," Grayza whispered silkily. He felt her breath against his ear even as he tried to remind himself that hallucinations didn't breathe. "You won't beat me again."
Scorpius watched him, almost kindly. "And what gave you the strength to take the laaka?"
Grayza hissed angrily. "Do not listen to him, Crichton."
John lowered the weapon, his eyes flickering to focus on Scorpius before turning back to Grayza. The second time he had been with her came rushing back. He remembered telling her she was nothing without Scorpius. He remembered seeing the laaka and knowing if he had it she wouldn't be able to touch him. He had not had much power, but he had used what little he had and he had still beaten her. "Why do you people in my head always think you can tell me what to do?" he asked slowly.
Grayza backed away anxiously and he got to his feet, aiming Winona.
"You know, Scorpy, for once, you're actually making sense." John stepped forward, towards Grayza. Even though some part of him knew she wasn't real, she wasn't there, she looked like she was. And with all the edges fading black he couldn't be sure of anything.
He fired and she disappeared with a scream. She took his strength with her and he fell to his knees, tiredly watching the empty space where she had been. There was a small scorch mark on the wall across from him.
Scorpius grinned at him. "Do you see now that she has no power?"
John lifted the weapon again and aimed it angrily at Scorpius. He fired, but the pulse blast slipped through him like he wasn't there, and Scorpius kneeled beside him, smirking. Realization hit, and he knew it wasn't Scorpius he was seeing. "Now, do you feel better?"
He didn't feel better. "Harvey?"
"Go to hell." Then he hit the ground.
"I'll find him!" Chiana growled into the com. Her hands were shaking, and she wasn't sure if it was because she was coming down from her high or because she was terrified of how far John was going fall from his.
The others were demanding to know what had happened, what was wrong, but she couldn't force herself to tell them the truth. She relied on her old instincts and spun a story from thin air, told them she had stolen something from the market and John was angry with her -- that he had taken off his com so he would not have to speak to her. She told them to leave it alone, that she would fix it, and she could only pray she found John first.
Now that her thoughts were coming together again and she was thinking straight, she wished she could take back what she had done. She could kill herself if she wanted, she didn't care about that, but she didn't want to take John with her. At least, most of her didn't, but that part that hadn't wanted to drown alone had taken control when she'd been gone on the Nirkin, and tried to drag him along with her.
Tears started to threaten at the edges of her eyes and she stubbornly blinked them away. Maybe it had finally happened, maybe she had finally ruined the last good thing in her life -- the friendship she was sure she would die without.
She rounded another corner, and saw Scorpius kneeling over a still Crichton. Her heart skipped a beat or two, and she reached for her weapon. "Get away from him!" she yelled.
Scorpius looked up, calmly. He backed away.
"What did you do?" she demanded.
He watched her, assessed her, and she felt herself growing colder under the stare. "I think the better question is; what did you do?"
She felt the anger fall away at the question and dropped to her knees, turning Crichton's face towards hers. He was out. Transparent lines marked his cheeks from his eyes to his neck.
"I met him in the hall a few moments ago," Scorpius said, realizing the Nebari had no intention of providing him with an answer. His head tilted back. "He was acting irrationally, threatening me, so I waited for him to get a head start and then I tracked him down." Chiana threw him a scathing glance. "To make sure he was well, of course. His symptoms seem to be from--"
"I know what his symptoms are from," Chiana hissed. "Now go back to your quarters! Stay away from us."
Scorpius hissed at her slightly, and she found the sound unnerving. She let out a sigh of relief when he disappeared from sight and turned back to John. "Crichton! Crichton, come on, wake up -- I need to know you're okay."
When he didn't respond, she gave his cheek a gentle pat. He moaned and she placed her hands on his shoulders, giving him a gentle shake. "Crichton?"
"Chiana?" His eyes were still closed, but Chiana broke out into a grin at the sound of her name.
"Yeah. Come on, we need to get you to your quarters. Can't have you napping in the middle of the hall." Chiana started pulling him up and he dazedly opened his eyes.
"You didn't mention there would be a hangover," he said with a wince. "You didn't mention the hallucinations, either."
Chiana winced in sympathy. "Sorry about that. Sometimes I forget you're not Sebecean. It isn't supposed to do that."
Crichton allowed Chiana to drag him to his feet, but once he was there he wasn't sure he remembered how to use them. He fell back against the wall. "Sometimes I think I forget I'm only human, too."
Chiana sighed, and framed his face with her hands, forcing him to meet her eyes. "How do you feel now? Any hallucinations? The drug's already almost out of my system, but no offense, Crichton, you still look…stoned, was it?"
"I'm fine." He swallowed. "The others, do they--?"
"They think we're having a fight. I didn't mention the Nirkin. Assuming we can make it to your quarters unnoticed, they don't have to know anymore than you want them to. But maybe…" Chiana paused. "Maybe we should have you looked at by someone?"
He shook his head. "No, no I like your story about a fight better."
Chiana bit her lip. "Yeah. Okay. Let's get you to your quarters then."
Crichton nodded then paused. He glanced at Chiana. "Hey, Pip?"
"Do you remember how to get there?"
Chiana pulled one of his arms across her shoulders with a sigh. "Yeah. Just follow me." Chiana hit her com once they had started moving. "Found Crichton," she said. "We talked it through, no problems. He's just going to crash for awhile."
Aeryn's voice responded quickly, sounding irritated. "Crash? Where is he? I want to talk with him."
"Crash," Chiana said. "Earth-speak for sleep. I think. So he can't talk. He'll…" Chiana glanced over at him. "He'll com you later when he's more himself. Goodbye, Aeryn."
Chiana shut off the com before Aeryn could finish saying her name, and looked over at John again. "How are you doing?"
"Oh, peachy," he said.
Chiana wasn't sure what that meant, but he was looking a little green, so she was pretty sure it wasn't good. "We're almost there," she said. "You were pretty close already."
"I was following the ghosts," he said.
Chiana looked away. The drug was supposed to take the ghosts away for awhile, not make them easier to see. They reached his door and she led him to the bed, but he slipped out of her grasp and to the floor before they reached it. He let his head fall back against it, and let his feet slip outwards along the floor until their momentum finally stopped.
"Crichton," Chiana whispered. "You still don't look good."
He pressed his eyes shut and let his head drop into his arms. Phantoms still fought for attention in his mind, and he tried to push them all away and focus on Chiana's voice instead. The tremors started suddenly, and he could feel the last of his control slipping away.
"Dren," Chiana hissed. "Crichton? Crichton, are you alright?" Chiana got to her feet. "I'm going to have to call someone. Aeryn is going to kill me…D'Argo, I'll…I'll call D'Argo, he won't kill me…"
"Not D'Argo," Crichton pleaded, uncurling and leaning backwards so his back rested against the bed.
"I have to call someone," Chiana said, and it sounded like she was pleading too. "I don't know how to help you."
"Get Noranti," he whispered.
Chiana stared at him for a moment in shock. "Noranti? What do you want her for?"
Crichton agitatedly ran a hand through his hair, and his shaking fingers separated the short strands and left them standing up almost straight. "Noranti knows a lot about drugs. You get D'Argo and he'll just start yelling."
Chiana bit her lip. Both of those things were very likely true, but she still wasn't sure about how she felt putting her friend in the care of some insane old lady -- especially considering how much she might know about drugs. Options on this ship were few however, and with a nod she started for the door. "Don't move," she said.
"Couldn't if I wanted to," he whispered after she was gone. He placed the palms of his hands over his eyes, hoping the pressure would still their movement, but the shaking didn't stop.
Cold fingers snaked around his wrists and pulled them down. John tried to pull away until his vision focused and he saw Noranti hovering over him, Chiana behind her and staring at him in concern. He had no idea how they had come back so quickly, because it felt as though no time had passed in-between.
"You gave him Nirkin?" Noranti asked, as she busily went through her pouches. She made a few undistinguishable noises that sounded to John like 'tsk tsk.' "Can not mix Nirkin and laaka, bad idea, very bad--" she whispered.
"Laaka?" Chiana asked, but Noranti only shrugged, and Chiana let it go as more insanity.
"I'll explain later," John said faintly.
Noranti lifted John's head and pulled up on his eyelids, he tried to blink but she held them uncomfortably tight as she examined his eyes. One cold finger began to poke around his eye and John had enough, he jerked out of her grasp and swatted her hands down from his eyes. Noranti looked affronted but said nothing. She watched the shaking for a moment, and then slowly shook her head. "Nothing I can do."
"What?" Chiana snapped. "No, you have to do something--"
"It will leave his system with time -- a few arns, he should be well," she said, getting to her feet. "More potions would only make it worse. Such a fragile body to hold one with such strength, do you not think?"
Chiana glared at her angrily. "You're not good for anything!" She grabbed her arm and led her to the door, before pushing her out and closing it shut. The curtain was lowered next and then she was back on her knees beside Crichton. "Crichton?"
"I'm fine," he said tiredly. "She said I would be, right?"
Chiana laughed bitterly, the sound soft but still cutting. "Since when do we trust her?"
"She's not so bad," Crichton said softly. Though he wished she had told him he shouldn't take other drugs with laaka. The question had never come up, because he had never expected to become this close to being nothing but a junkie.
Chiana slid behind him, in the space between his back and the bed, and wrapped her arms around him. He leaned against her, his head falling back on her shoulder. He had held her like this more times than she could remember, and she might have liked repaying the favor if he hadn't been shaking hard enough to break her heart.
"I'm so sorry…" she whispered.
"Don't be sorry," he said. His hand came up to rest over hers, his warm fingers circling her wrist. "If anyone is to blame for my condition it's me. You've done nothing wrong, Chi."
Even if it had been his choice, she was still the one that had asked him to choose. Chiana closed her eyes, felt his heart beat beneath her palm, and wished that for just this once, when she had been so trying to help, she could have actually made a difference.
Chiana's eyes shot open as she heard the polished click of boots against the floor, and a moment later, the door was swinging open, pushing the curtain away. Aeryn stepped into the room, her eyes cold as she looked down at them both. "What did you do to him?" she demanded.
Chiana almost told her. If she did maybe Aeryn would hit her, and maybe she wouldn't feel quite this guilty. It wasn't her decision, though. Crichton didn't want Aeryn to know, and there was no way she was going to tell her something he wanted to be secret. But she was afraid the tears in her eyes might give them both away. "I didn't, I--"
John shifted in front of her, turning to meet Aeryn's eyes. "She didn't do anything," he said, his voice was slow to keep out the tremors, and firm enough to leave no room for disbelief. "I'm just sick, Aeryn -- just go. I don't want you to see me like this."
He looked close to tears, and Chiana noticed with surprise that Aeryn did too. Aeryn came to stand in front of them, and the chill had left her eyes, leaving a desperation in its place that Chiana knew all too well. Aeryn knelt down, her boots creaking as they bent. "Let me help you, John," she whispered.
Chiana watched Aeryn in surprise, because there was no censure left when surely, she must have realized what they had done. She actually just wanted to help, and Chiana felt herself confused by the ex-Peacekeeper again. She could only imagine how John must feel.
"Just keep Scorpius the hell away from me for awhile," he pushed the words through gritted teeth as the tremors grew worse again. "I don't want you here. I don't want you to see me like this."
Aeryn looked like she would protest, but then with a frustrated release of breath, she disappeared and Chiana watched her go, holding John against her -- feeling special, because he didn't care if she saw him like this. They both knew each other's worst, and it never changed anything between them.
They had a shared secret that neither could bare to speak, and none of the others would ever understand. They had been beaten and stalked, broken into pieces, but they kept going because above everything they knew how to survive. Sometimes their methods worked better than others, and she knew that drugs were no answer at all, but sometimes she needed them to get to the end of the day -- and if they had to hurt themselves more to survive, she knew that's what they would do. It didn't make it easy, and she wasn't sure it made it right.
She had honestly only wanted to help him, but it seemed she never could, and things had been so much easier when she only needed to worry about herself. When Nerri had gone there had been no one left to disappoint, and then Crichton with his blue eyes and innocence had just expected her to do things she would never have thought to do.
He made her care about something other than just herself, and she was beginning to wish he hadn't. She could not live up to his expectations anymore than he could live up to his own, and every time she tried to help everything just got worse.
She didn't know why she kept trying. Crichton didn't need her frelling up his life more than it already was. Her stubbornness began to fade away as desperation took hold, but she barely noticed the tears, and John's tremors were reverberating into her. He would be so much better off if she just stopped trying. Maybe they all would.
"You saved my life, you know," Crichton whispered suddenly. The words took awhile to form in her head.
"No I didn't," she said. That was his job, not hers.
"I was dying along with that Leviathan, Chi. I could have cared less what happened to me. You gave me a reason to care again."
He slipped into sleep after he spoke, and Chiana held onto him tighter. Maybe she didn't make things worse every time after all, and maybe instead of not trying at all she should try harder instead. "You've saved me too," she whispered. She didn't think he would ever know how much.
She didn't realize at first that she had begun shaking too. It was hard to tell what motion was hers, and what motion was his, and if she closed her eyes hard enough the rest of the world would disappear, until she could imagine that this was all there was.
Note: Please forgive all of the mistakes! I tried to catch them all, but I'm already noticing some. I guess that's what I get for thinking I don't need a beta...