A Peacekeeper Ball.
She, Aeryn Sun Crichton, is the guest of frelling honor. How twisted the universe has become. She would much rather be back on Moya with her son than on this Command Carrier that she had once considered her home, family and entire life.
Now her entire life consists of one man and one little boy.
John has disappeared from her side for something or other. Even now when peace is supposed to prevail, Crichton can still attract trouble like no one else in the galaxy. Except for perhaps, Little D, as they have taken to calling him.
Her guess is right. She spots John in the crowd across the room cornered by Grayza, and Aeryn immediately stiffens. She pushes her way through the milling officers and the swirling dancers until she is next to him. Aeryn moves to stand beside him and clearly fixes Grayza with a look that says to back off.
John wraps an arm around her waist, steadying himself by touching her – his reference point. Aeryn wishes that her pulse pistol was still in its holster.
"Hey babe," John says, breaking into the small talk abruptly, "Let's dance."
Aeryn agrees before she has a chance to think. Anything to get him away from Grayza. Someday she will kill that frelling woman.
"Relax, Aeryn. It's just one dance."
She doesn't disillusion him about the source of her tension, but instead relaxes into his arms. It is the one place in the galaxy that she feels totally safe. Ignoring the steps of the dance, she reaches up to tenderly kiss him.
"I love you, John Crichton," she whispers as she pulls away.
John doesn't speak, but he draws her closer to him. She wraps her arms around his neck. He buries his face in her hair and she scans the room over his shoulder, watching their backs out of habit.
"Have we found out what we came here for?" John breathes quietly into her hair.
She tilts he head to place a kiss on his neck so that no one else can see that she's talking.
"Not yet. Chiana hasn't made her grand entrance yet. We won't know until then."
"We don't even know if Pip and Rygel made it," John grumbled.
Aeryn smirks, knowing her husbands fault well.
"We can give them a little bit more time, John," she soothes him even as she is wondering herself. She does not want this evening to be a waste and they need to know if the rumors that they've been hearing are true.
It is too dangerous for them to remain ignorant. John is the new symbol of peace in the galaxy and anyone who has ambitions of galactic conquest would want to be rid of John first.
The dance ends and she and John move off of the dance floor. Another dance begins as they stand on the sidelines. Aeryn is just about to slip away and comm. Pilot about Little D when abruptly the music and the dancing stops.
Aeryn smiles faintly as she looks. It appears as if Chiana has not lost her touch. The Nebari is posing at the entrance to the grand ballroom. Her arms, legs and head all cocked at odd angles as if she is just slightly off center of everything.
Her clothing screams with color, but still manages to be as sheer as air. People hardly notice the noisy, berating Dominar that zooms into the room behind her bellowing about incompetent underlings and the lack of a good supply of Creslin eggs at this party. Everyone is still focused on Chiana.
The Peacekeeper officers flock around her, almost drooling over her. Chiana grins and flirts, but for once her heart doesn't seem to be in it.
"I guess that's our cue," John speaks.
Together they drift through the crowd until they reach her.
John barely catches his balance as she leaps up to hug him. "That was some entrance, Pip," he says softly as he hugs her back.
He has been worried about her on Hyneria, with only Rygel to keep her in check and out of trouble.
Aeryn coughs pointedly beside him, but there is an amused, tolerant grin on her face. China jumps down and the two women embrace as well. It's not so demonstrative, but they have their own understanding after cycles of living together.
Chiana cocks her head at Aeryn and flashes a mischievous grin, "How's the narl?"
Aeryn grimaces. "Oh he's delightful. John and I were especially happy to learn that he had a new talent when we visited the last commerce planet. You wouldn't know how he learned to pick pockets, would you Chiana?"
Chiana laughs. "Did he get caught," she asks with a teacher's pride.
"Only by me," Aeryn shoots back.
Chiana only grins, not intimidated by the former Peacekeepr.
Aeryn relents. "He's gotten much bigger. He just celebrated his fifth cycle. He asked if you and Rygel were bringing his lifeday presents."
"We did," Chiana says, but despite her happy words and her smile Aeryn can see the sadness in her eyes. She recognizes the look all too well, but Chiana isn't as lucky as she was. Chiana no longer wears her heart on her sleeve. Yet another change that D'Argo has effected on her, even now.
"Good," John replies to Chiana, "You can bring them up to Moya later. I'm sure that she and Pilot would like to see you too."
Chiana nods, and for an instant he thinks that her eyes darken, but then the expression is gone and she is once again just Chiana.
"I'd like to see Moya too," she admits with uncharacteristic honesty. More change. She glances over her shoulder at Rygel. "Can't leave his highness unattended too long, you know," she says before she dives back into the crowd.
There conversation was short and scarce, but it told them some of what they needed to know. Aeryn's fingers tighten around John's. It is not good news. They know that, at least, but they say nothing. Not until they are safe from prying ears on Moya.
When they get back to Moya they both go to check on their son. He is curled up in Pilot's Den, sleeping soundly, two watchful DRD's circled around him.
"I hope he wasn't too much trouble, Pilot," Aeryn speaks quietly.
"Never, Officer Sun." Pilot reassures her emphatically.
Aeryn is never certain whether to trust his reassurances. She knows her son.
"Moya says that she enjoys his presence as well."
John lays a hand on Pilot's shoulder. "Tell the old girl we really appreciate it," he says gruffly.
Pilot nods and John goes to pick 'D' up. Aeryn watches her husband with a fond smile, knowing this routine by heart.
John pauses as he reaches her and she takes the moment to study her son's face, marveling that this is really her son. She brushes the hair back off of his forehead and drops a featherlike kiss on his forehead.
Tonight John will put him to bed while she walks the corridors of Moya. Chiana and Rygel will be there in a few arns, bringing bad news that she can already guess at and lifeday presents.
She is only waiting now. In a few microts, John will join her in the hangar bay and they will talk, will decide what to do when the entire frelling galaxy decides to try to kill them again.
Aeryn only hopes that it works out as well as last time.