Shop Till You Drop
Author's Note: I started this a long time ago, and since I was depressing myself with my other stories, I decided to finish it. I know this has been done before—but . . . I wanted to do it anyway and it's just written for fun, nothing serious.
"John, stop this," D'Argo demanded as he grabbed his friend's arm and began pulling him down Moya's corridor.
"No," John snapped, attempting to pull away. "Every time I go down to some nice little planet—people start trying to kill me."
D'Argo gave a long-suffering sigh. "You have been sulking here at our last two stops. No one is going to try and kill you. But if you do not come with us—I will kill you myself. You are making us all fahrbot."
Resignedly, John allowed himself to be pulled along. "If you're going crackers, buddy, don't blame me."
"You have been restless and irritable for weekens and you need to get off this ship," D'Argo snapped, before turning to look at him with distaste. "And you need new clothes—every time I see you in that uniform I want to shoot you."
John turned to look at D'Argo's Qualta Blade uneasily. Then he looked down at the Peacekeeper uniform he was wearing. "If you ignore the fact that it's Nazi-made," he said. "It's actually kind of cool."
D'Argo gave him a shove into the docking bay. "I cannot ignore it."
Chiana and Aeryn were standing near the transport pod when they entered, and when Aeryn saw John she smiled smugly and held out her hand. With obvious reluctance, Chiana handed over 15 Demeric Credits, and then turned to glare at John.
"You just couldn't hold out for one more planet, could you?"
John watched the transaction silently, then, ignoring Chiana's question, he turned to Aeryn in disbelief. "You bet on me?"
Aeryn shrugged with a small smile. "I needed the extra credits for something, and after overhearing D'Argo ranting about dragging you to the planet dead or alive—I figured it was a sure thing."
Chiana glared at her. "You cheated," she said, before grinning slyly. "I didn't know you had it in you."
"Where's Blue?" John asked as they filed into the pod.
"She's staying here with Rygel," Chiana told him. "They didn't want to risk going down to the planet—and we thought it was better if we weren't all together."
"Risk it?" John asked dubiously, while D'Argo turned to glare at Chiana.
Chiana nodded. "Well, yeah—bounty hunters are always stopping here on account of all the weapons sales."
John turned on his heel without a word and started for the exit. D'Argo grabbed his sleeve and closed the hatch. "Aeryn, take us down."
"Fine," John snapped. "Fine! Let's all just wander into Bounty Hunter Country. I'm sure nothing bad will happen."
Chiana giggled. "You worry too much, Crichton."
"You're right, Pip. What have I got to worry about? I live a charmed life."
"We're just going to grab some weapons, get you some new clothes, and then go back to Moya," Aeryn said reasonably.
"Oh sure, sounds nice and simple. But you left out the part where everything goes to hell." John crossed his arms irritably. He didn't care he was proving D'Argo right about the whole sulking thing.
"You're becoming paranoid," Aeryn said coolly. "It is not a good quality for a soldier to have."
"First off—I'm not a soldier, Sundance, and second, it's not paranoia when everyone really is out to get you." John sat down heavily on the floor of the transport.
"He has a point," Chiana said slyly, as she lowered herself down beside him and slipped her arm through his. "Besides, I don't see why he needs new clothes, anyway. I like the uniform."
John glanced at her, and she winked at him, licking her lips with a suppressed giggle.
"It is a Peacekeeper uniform," D'Argo snapped angrily. "It has to go."
"Well, yeah, it is," Chiana admitted. "But he's not a Peacekeeper."
"If you want to stay here, Crichton," Aeryn said, and he could tell by the tone of her voice she was only humoring him. "I will pick out your clothes."
He got a sudden flash of head to toe body armor, with retractable knives at the wrists and rocket launchers on the arms. He winced, and then shook his head no. As in no way in hell.
"Well, I could do it," Chiana purred. "I'm sure I could find something suitable."
John shot her a terrified glance. The visions he got this time were much, much worse, and . . . less. "I'm going," he said. "I'm going."
D'Argo gave a satisfied grin, and Chiana pouted a little at the lost opportunity of playing dress-up with her favorite human. Aeryn just rolled her eyes as she flew them down to the surface.
"Oh great," John muttered. "This is just great. You've dragged me to the frelling City of the Dead."
"You're becoming cynical in your old age," Chiana whispered silkily, nudging him playfully with her shoulder.
John ran his eyes quickly over the city. Smog, check. Suspicious looking aliens, check. Buildings that would tumble with a stiff breeze, check. The grey skies were a given, he'd learned in his travels this side of the universe that blue was a rarity.
Aeryn walked up behind him. "Stay with D'Argo if you're that concerned, Crichton. I have an errand to run."
"What errand?" John called after her, hoping he didn't really sound that desperate. Okay, so maybe he'd been a bit clingy lately, but near death experiences tended to do that to him.
Aeryn glanced at him. "I will not be long," she said, sounding amused. "D'Argo, watch him for me, will you?"
She was definitely laughing at him. He glared at her back while she stomped away, before Chiana started pulling him down another street. "I know just the place for you," she said, before looking back at D'Argo. "I don't think they have your style, D'Argo, but you'd better come with us in case the sales clerk decides to try and kill us."
John snorted. "You say that like its not likely."
Chiana laughed. "You've got to lighten up!"
John beamed at her. "That's one of my lines."
"You do occasionally have some useful ones," Chiana said teasingly.
D'Argo rolled his eyes behind them, deciding that next planet, Aeryn was definitely getting babysitting duty while he went out for a drink.
The clothing store Chiana led them to was mostly empty, which John appreciated. He'd thought for sure it would be swarming with Peacekeepers, as that would be just his luck. The clothing, however, left something to be desired.
"Don't they have any Calvin Klein?" he asked, his eyes running over the myriad of black leathers and long coats.
Chiana glanced at him. "I don't know what that is, but I don't think so. They sell clothes here, Crichton."
John didn't bother to explain. He saw a flicker of color over at the other side of the store, and grinned. Chiana caught his arm as he started to head towards it. "I'm going to go look around in the back," she said.
He nodded, but once she'd started heading off he called after her, "Yo, Pip, stay out of trouble!"
She laughed before she disappeared from sight, and he started back towards the clothes he had spotted. "Alright!" he said. "Hey, D, look, somethin' that isn't black."
John held up a white shirt, with some kind of blue fruit patterned on the front. "Makes me homesick just looking at it," he said with a sigh.
"It makes me sick, as well," D'Argo sneered, grabbing the shirt and replacing it on the shelf. "You are not wearing that. I would definitely have to kill you."
Crichton shot him a glare, but he wasn't going to risk finding out if he was serious or not. He pulled out a red one instead. "This is nice."
"No," D'Argo said, his eyes scanning the doors, and not even glancing at the shirt.
John threw it back and crossed his arms. "Well, why don't you just pick something then, if you know so much about fashion."
D'Argo gave him in irritated glance, but after scanning the shelves, he pulled out a plain black t-shirt and tossed it to him. "Take this."
"I have one of these," John said, unimpressed. "I didn't allow myself to get dragged all the way down here for this. I want something different. You know, something to help me stand out."
"You don't not want to stand out, Crichton," D'Argo said, patronizingly. "We want to blend in. That shirt is practical. You will get it."
"Yes, dad," John muttered, his eyes lingering on the generic Uncharted Territories Hawaiian shirts before drifting towards the plain clothes. He grabbed another black shirt with a sigh.
He felt arms wrap around his neck again, but they were grey, so he decided not to panic. Besides, he could hear the familiar laughter in his ear when he jumped slightly, so he had a pretty good idea who it was. "Scare ya?" Chiana asked breathily. He tried to good-naturedly to shrug her off, but she was tenacious. "I got ya something."
She let go of him and held out a pair of leather pants. He eyed them dubiously. "They're leather," he said.
Chiana grinned. "I always knew you were smart."
He gave a long suffering sigh. "I don't wear black leather pants, Chiana. My buddies and I used to make fun of guys wearing black leather pants."
"Leather is practical," Chiana said, but the expression in her eyes gave her away. Practical was very obviously the last thing on her mind. She turned around and grabbed a long leather coat off another shelf. "Here. This matches. Go try them on."
D'Argo nodded. "Yes, those will do fine." He shoved the black t-shirts back into John's arms, and pushed him into a small cubicle that John supposed, this side of the universe, passed for a dressing room.
He gave another sigh, but resignedly started undressing. His elbows slammed against the back wall when he tried to unbuckle his pants, and he wondered if the primary species on this planet were, perhaps, munchkin-sized. In any case, he didn't know how he was expected to put on leather pants under these conditions. He wasn't going out there to admit defeat, either, though. No way.
D'Argo would never let him hear the end of it, and Chiana would probably insist he put them on out there instead. He'd just managed to get the Peacekeeper uniform off, and was standing in his last pair of white boxers, when the door swung open, and Aeryn walked casually in.
His eyes widened, and he grabbed the long coat and held it in front of him. "What are you doing?" he snapped.
She laughed, a genuine Aeryn laugh, and he almost forgave her just for that. If she hadn't been laughing at him, he was sure he would have. She shut the door behind her, and had no choice but to lean up against him in the constricted space. "It's nothing I haven't seen before, Crichton," she said, amused. "You're a very odd creature."
She was practically pressed up against him now, and he was feeling a little dizzy. Must be a lack of oxygen. They needed to poke some holes in the ceiling, or something. "Can I help you?" he asked, sounding a little primmer than was strictly acceptable by his male ego.
She held up two pulse pistols. "Which one do you want?"
"You bought me a gun?" he asked incredulously.
She seemed surprised. "Of course. Don't tell me you think you don't need it."
He winced. That was a fair point. He must assuredly needed it. He was a walking magnet for trouble. "Right," he said. "Uh, the left one. The smaller one."
She grinned, and looked pleased. "Good choice. It's a new addition. Lighter, more efficient."
John nodded, trying to look interested, while filing away the information that gun-talk made Aeryn smile a lot. "Right, well, I'm kind of busy, if you hadn't noticed, so would you mind…"
Aeryn gave him another smile, eerily reminiscent of Chiana, and then gave a quick nod. "Fine, I'll leave. I was going to help—"
His eyes widened at the implications, but she was already out the door, and he couldn't very well follow her in nothing but his underwear. Well, he could, but even he had more pride than that. He sighed and turned back to the clothing. Pushing himself against the back corner, he managed to slip into the pants. He was surprised they were actually pretty comfortable, not like Earth-leather, but soft, and with a little give.
He slid the t-shirt on and pulled the jacket on after, then quickly pushed out of the tiny room, gratefully catching his breath once he'd made it out. He threw the Peacekeeper uniform over his shoulder and held out his arms, grinning at his three friends. "So, how do I look?"
No full-length mirrors in this joint, so he was going to have to rely on them. Not the most encouraging prospect, but his little encounter with Aeryn was lingering, and he wasn't going to complain.
Chiana grinned brightly, giving him a happy little nod. "You look drad. Sexy."
"It's acceptable," Aeryn said, but there was still a grin hiding around the corners of her mouth. He didn't know if she was still giddy about her new weapons or if she liked the leather more than she was letting on, and he wasn't going to push his luck by asking.
Crichton looked down at the clothes. Despite Chiana's enthusiastic response, and Aeryn's more reserved one, something still seemed off. He couldn't put his finger on it. "I don't know," he said after a microt, sounding uncertain. "I think it's missing something."
D'Argo nodded his agreement. "It needs a little color."
John looked up to glare at him. "You said I shouldn't have color," he snapped. "You said I would stand out."
D'Argo rolled his eyes. "There's a difference between a little color, and that atrocity you wanted to purchase," he said, gesturing towards the colorful, and as D'Argo pointed out, atrocious, clothing in the back.
"It doesn't need anything," Chiana interrupted. "You look fine, Crichton. I think we should get out of here. Go have some fun."
"We have to pay," John reminded.
Chiana nodded, as though she really had simply forgotten. "Uh, right."
"It still needs something, though," John said, glancing around the shop.
Aeryn stepped forward, strapped a holster onto John's thigh and dropped the pulse pistol into it. He caught his breath, but she didn't seem near as affected by the contact as she moved away. She seemed half-irritated, half-amused. "I'm leaving. When you ladies are finished, you can find me at the transport." She spun on her heel and headed out.
"This is what you used my credits on?" Chiana shouted after her. "A pulse pistol," she said, disgusted, when she turned back to D'Argo and John. "What a waste. I was going to get fire-silk."
John sighed. "Aeryn's probably got the right idea, we should probably get out of here. Fashion isn't exactly highest on our list of things we should be worrying about."
D'Argo nodded his agreement, but Chiana kept quiet, obviously not as sure. "I'm going to the store next door first," she said. "I'll only be a microt, and I'll meet you at the transport."
John watched her with narrowed eyes. "I thought you lost all your money."
Chiana threw him her most innocent grin as she backed up towards the door. "Oh, no. I've still got some left. Ah, you'll keep the transport prepped and ready to go, right?"
"Chiana—" Jack snapped, but she was already flouncing out the door. With a resigned sigh, he headed over to pay for the clothes and then started out the doors with D'Argo. Chiana had already disappeared from sight. "Here I am worried about Peacekeepers, when I should have been more worried about Chiana."
"She will be fine," D'Argo said, though he was obviously irritated. "She can take care of herself."
John nodded and they started back to the transport. They had it in sight when trouble finally hit. Forget trouble magnets, he was a walking train wreck, and he was strangely resigned as a pulse pistol was brought to aim at his head. At least he had the pleasure of knowing he'd been right. Not that he was surprised.
The guy holding the pulse pistol on them looked like a Peacekeeper, definitely Sebacean, in any case. "You're John Crichton," he said, sounding quite smug.
John glanced quickly at D'Argo, a plan already forming in his mind. It wasn't a good plan, of course, but that had never stopped him before. "I'm not John Crichton, you moron. I'm undercover trying to find out where John Crichton is, and I'm very close—you take me into High Command, the only bounty you'll get is a one-way ticket to a Tribunal."
"And the Luxan?" the man sneered. "Who is he, then?"
Crichton winced. The good news was he was apparently right in his guess the guy was working for the Peacekeepers. The bad news was he'd forgotten D'Argo was with him. "He's ah…my muscle. You know, my body guard."
He heard D'Argo give a low growl, and had a sinking suspicion that instead of being aimed at their attacker, it was aimed at him. "Look, you're going to blow my cover," Crichton snapped at the Sebacean. "I'm getting close to his friends, I think they're going to tell me where he is soon."
The guy only faltered for a moment before suspicion reasserted his hold. Noticing the hesitation, D'Argo quickly pulled out his Qualta Blade. The Peacekeeper noticed the movement, having been trained to act fast himself, and he quickly swung around to aim at D'Argo instead.
He would have fired, if the butt of another pulse pistol hadn't connected with the back of his head and sent him to the ground. Aeryn stood casually behind his fallen form, looking exasperated. "Are you both alright?" she snapped.
John nodded vaguely, and D'Argo said, "We're fine. Thanks."
Aeryn's lips tightened as her eyes shot to John. "You have a weapon now, Crichton. I suggest you use it. I can't always be there." She waited for him to respond, but she noticed with not a little irritation, he was completely ignoring her. His eyes were fixed on the fallen Peacekeeper.
"Does he look my size to you?" he asked suddenly.
Aeryn's mouth dropped open in disbelief, and D'Argo's rolled towards him holding much of the same sentiment. John shrugged out of his new jacket, and handed it, along with his old Peacekeeper uniform, to D'Argo. D'Argo, still utterly bemused, took the clothes without protest.
John walked to stand over the man, and then he knelt down to try and take off his vest. He paused in his efforts when he felt their eyes on him, and noticed they were both still looking at him with disbelief. "Hey, he tried to kill me! I think I'm owed some compensation—emotional recompense, you know…or something."
"You're stealing his clothes?" Aeryn asked, incredulously.
John nodded, looking at the maroon colored vest, with its black lines and seams and buckles. "It's just what I'm missing," he said. "Hey, you wanna help?"
"For frell's sake," Aeryn muttered, leaning down and kicking the guy onto his side. He let out a low moan, which made Crichton wince, and she ignored. She pulled the vest the rest of the way off and handed it to him. "Can we go now?"
John slid it on, liking the fit. He grinned at her. "This is perfect." He turned to D'Argo. "Isn't this perfect?"
"It looks very striking, John," D'Argo said.
Aeryn shook her head. "Don't encourage him." She glanced around. "Where's Chiana?"
"She went shopping," John said, taking his clothes back from D'Argo. "I'll find her."
Aeryn glared at them and then pointed back toward the transport pod. "You two will go to the transport. I'll find her."
John slid into the long jacket, liking the way it hung over his new vest. He had a little more bounce in his step as they made their way back to the transport. And Aeryn returned quickly enough after they had reached it, dragging a protesting Chiana by the arm. "Hey, why are we leaving all the sudden? I wasn't done."
"John was spotted," D'Argo told her. "Would you rather we left you behind?"
Chiana gave him a hard glance, but didn't protest again after that. Aeryn shut the door and headed back to the controls. John slid down onto the back bench while she started flying back towards Moya, listening as she commed Pilot to tell him there were Peacekeepers around and asking he prepare to starburst.
"So, a pulse pistol, huh?" Chiana asked, coming to sit next to him. "Nice."
John pulled it out, looking at it. He grinned suddenly. "Yeah. Best one I've seen." He held it up, examining it, then said, in a rather exaggerated manor, "I dub thee—Winona."
Chiana gave a little bemused laugh, and being sure to keep her eyes straight ahead, Aeryn allowed herself a brief smile. D'Argo simply shook his head, exasperated, as he sat down next to him, and John noticed they seemed to do that around him an awful lot. "So you were right," D'Argo said, after a moment of comfortable silence. "From now on—you stay on Moya."
"Are you kidding me?" John shouted, adjusting his new jacket. "That was fun." Chiana smiled at him, delighted to have a new ally, and he dropped Winona back in her holster. "When's the next commerce planet?"
Aeryn and D'Argo both groaned, but John and Chiana's laughter drowned them out.