Aeryn found Crichton in the cargo bay, pounding on her padded dummy. He didn't even hear her come in, just hit away at the dummy with a desperateness only one in his position could possess. He looked as angry as she'd often felt... she didn't know the human was capable.

Aeryn moved closer, calling out flatly, "John."

In a split second he whirled to face her, drew his gun, and came up aiming right at her. And for a moment, she did not recognize the creature in his eyes. It was hungry and blind... instinct and fury and nothing else.

The look in his eyes slowly cleared and it was once again Crichton looking at her... and looking scared and apologetic.

Crichton lowered his pulse pistol, turning it aside and holding it out to her, "Take this away from me."

Aeryn frowned, "What do you think you're going to do with it if I don't?"

Crichton looked away, refusing to meet her eyes, "Something we'll all regret."

Aeryn stepped forward and took the gun from him. He sighed and stepped away from her, chest heaving and sweat glistening on his face.

"John... hey."

Crichton almost smirked, rubbing his hands together and clamping his jaw, "What... did you see when the Cognar touched you?"

Aeryn frowned, "Peacekeepers. Not all of it was actually them, but that's what it was I was seeing... Peacekeepers. What did you see?"

Crichton backed up further, lowering himself to the ground and dropping his face into his hands. Aeryn moved slowly closer, stopping beside him.

Crichton took a deep breath, "Did you feel... afterwards, did you feel what you saw?"

Aeryn sat down next to him carefully, "A little... not as much as you, apparently."

Crichton shuddered, "Is the Cognar okay?"

Aeryn was never one to lie to make someone feel better, "It's terrified... what did it see when it touched you?"

John shook his head, "I don't think I could explain it."

"Try."

"I don't want to."

Aeryn set the pulse pistol well out of reach for the human. She looked sternly at him, "You always say how talking about it helps. You always make me talk... so talk, human."

Crichton grimaced, "I saw... me."

Aeryn startled, despite herself. John could only close his eyes, frightened to find the image still burned in his brain. He saw himself and somehow knew all the evil of man's deeds were in him... maybe not the exact acts but the capability. He was a savage, primitive human being. He had never been sick to his stomach to belong to the species before.

Crichton pulled away from Aeryn's presence, standing to move away.

But Aeryn would not have it. As he'd so often cornered her when she was having a problem, she cornered him... in true Aeryn Sun style.

Before Crichton could get a step away she had taken his legs out from under him, laid him out on his back, and had him pinned.

He was stunned, taken by surprise, and blinked up at her, unable to believe what she'd just done.

Aeryn narrowed her eyes, "Tell me what the bug up your ear is or I'll beat it out of you."

Crichton, to her surprise, smirked, "It's a bug up my ASS, Aeryn... now let me up."

Aeryn didn't move, "Are you going to talk or run?"

Crichton frowned, "I don't think you want to ask a fight or flight question right now, Aeryn." It was only then she took notice that the body under her was strung taut. Every muscle in Crichton's body seemed tensed and coiled. She half expected at any microt for him to make an attempt to buck her off.

Aeryn snapped back, "So you're going to run... like a coward, you're going to just run."

Crichton's eyes grew cold, "I'm not a coward."

"Coward... you're going to run."

Crichton's jaw ground, "I won't run... let. me. up."

Aeryn stood, moving away, unprepared for the quick regaining of his feet John made. He faced her, and something about his stance seemed to say he'd meant the alternative to him leaving was a literal fight.

Just when Aeryn thought she was going to have to kick the dren out of the human, Crichton seemed to realize what he was doing and blinked. He stood up straight, hands unclenching and looking at Aeryn.

Aeryn relaxed, certain enough that he was no longer looking for a fight.

Crichton turned his back on her, but didn't move away. Instead he groaned under his breath in frustration, "I can FEEL it in my blood, Aeryn. What he showed me, what I saw when it touched me, I can still feel it."

Aeryn nodded slowly, "And you've what... never felt like this before?"

Crichton turned to look at her, "This kind of rage? No... I've never felt it before, but I still know it. I recognize this. I'm disgusted... and excited by it... and what if I can't get rid of it?"

Aeryn nodded, studying him, then said bluntly, "Defend yourself."

Crichton blinked, "What?"

Aeryn took up a fighting stance, "You want to fight, fight me. And if you won't fight you'll be beat up, because I'm going to fight you."

Crichton's muscles secretly thrummed with excitement and readiness, but the mind was not willing, "No... Aeryn, I'm not going to..."

Aeryn moved to him, advancing in an unmistakable martial assault, "Fight, human!" and punched him in the ribs.

Crichton startled, but only for a moment, then the primal rage boiling through his veins took over and he wasn't John Crichton friend, he was creature opponent. He was the fighter, predator advancing, prey choosing fight over flight.

Aeryn and John attacked and defended at each other for a good minute or two, but a minute or two of a flurry of activity. Their punches were vicious and purposeful... unchecked and unrestrained. Both fighters became bloodied and bruised. They fought until they were exhausted by their short but quick and dirty battle, muscles aching and fatigued... it was an almost close match up until the point Aeryn managed to throw him to the mat with a thud.

And he didn't get up. He ached over his entire body and was too tired to make a move. He laid there, defeated and not recalcitrant to admit it. He was beaten... but he'd also won. The fire in his blood was gone. The primal beast was gone again... leaving a battered and bruised John Crichton. John had known when Aeryn started the fight that she was trying to get him to work it out of his system, but he'd had doubts that it was possible. The notion struck him that he might have to leave the ship to spare his friends... he could not have subjected them to this in clear conscience. Now he was relieved to have been proved wrong. His demon was gone... back in his genetic subconscious. It could stay there for all he cared.

Aeryn dropped down next to him, laying shoulder to shoulder with him and letting out a tired sigh.

Crichton looked over at her, a bruised cheek and bloody eyebrow greeting him. He grimaced, practically croaking, "I'm sorry you had to see that."

Aeryn smirked, "Sorry? I'm impressed... I didn't think you had it in you."

Crichton, despite the pain it caused in his ribs and his split lip, started to laugh. Aeryn looked over at him, startled by his laughter, then started to grin in response.


A Cognar ship came upon them quickly enough and Zhaan saw their small guest the the hangar bay where a shuttle from the Cognar ship had come to pick up their visitor. Crichton was sure to stay well away from the hanger bay. He was certain the Cognar didn't want to see him, and he didn't want to see it. He had a good enough excuse, though... he was too busy nursing wounds. He would remember this lesson for a long time just because the moral would still hurt.

He was in his quarters when he heard Pilot tell him that Zhaan was looking for him. He'd not seen her after the incident with the Cognar... since he was avoiding it and it hung around Zhaan, it meant avoiding her. No doubt the Delvian was worried about him. In fact, the whole crew seemed off balance around Crichton. They didn't know what the Cognar saw, but they did know it saw something in the human that terrified it more than a Peacekeeper. That was saying something, and not anything good. They acted as though they'd all discovered Crichton had a ticking time bomb in his chest... and no one was sure when it was going to go off. He hoped that passed soon.

Quickly enough Zhaan's soft and gentle voice was at his door, "Crichton... may I enter?"

John lay on his back on the bed, eyes closed in the dim overhead lighting, "Sure."

Zhaan opened the door and came in, looking down at him on the bed and a flash of pain and sympathy crossing her face when she looked at him. She moved closer, "I saw Aeryn earlier... you look no better, although I did suspect as much."

Crichton started to smirk, then stopped at the pain in his cut lip, "Hey... I thought I did pretty good... usually I'm twice as bad off as she is."

Zhaan nodded, sitting on the edge of John's bed and giving him a concerned look, "John... are you all right?"

Crichton nodded, "Yeah... just had a caveman moment. Guess I'm not as 'gentle' as everyone thought."

Zhaan frowned, "Gentle..."

Crichton nodded, "When I talked to the Cognar it was in Pilot's den, and Pilot told it I was 'gentle'. Looks like he was wrong... surprised me, too."

Zhaan sighed, "John... what the Cognar saw was a species violence. Not the individual."

Crichton shook his head, "But how separate are they? I'm human, ergo I'm vicious. You know, 'therefore I am'."

Zhaan mused, "The Cognar may have seen the human, but I have seen you, John Crichton. When we shared unity I saw your spirit. Your species may not be gentle, but you are."

Crichton smirked sardonically, "Not completely. I'm just glad Aeryn was the only one who saw that monster."

Zhaan nodded, "Likely it is for the best. I too know what it is like to harbor a darkness."

Crichton nodded, "Yeah... and now I guess I know what's it's like to be a gentle creature in spite of that," and hoped his expression read without the smile.

Zhaan smiled gently in return, dipping her head, "Come and let me see to your wounds... you may have held your own against Aeryn better than usual, but you are still badly injured."

Crichton nodded, "Sure," then worked to slowly roll up with the pain in his ribs, "Just give me about... oh, an arn."

END