Humanity

HUMANITY

© T'eyla Minh 2001

SUMMARY: I have no idea… um… John feels weird, as usual. He's done something he regrets, and has a little think about his life and who he is. Aeryn's in this too, tough PK turned nice :) Vaguely J/A shippy, nothing like as bad as others I've written

RATING: PG for some language, or thereabouts.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters. Their musings, however, I do.

SPOILERS: As far as I can tell, none. Bear in mind I have not seen Season Three yet and won't until September, and am trying to stay spoiler free as much as is humanly possible…

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my second "Farscape" fic. My first does not deserve to exist, which is why I'm not going to post it (it's on my own site for mere novelty and completion value.) Therefore, think of this as my first fic… I'm making about as much sense as John at the end of Season Two… This semi-came to me in a dream. It doesn't go anywhere specific, it's not a tag, coda, or epilogue (although I was toying with the idea of it being another alternative ending to "DMD", it'll be far too complicated to make it believable) and it's not set in the middle of anything. Just a random little scene. Some images are possibly inspired by the Pilot episode and "Out Of Their Minds" - the last episode I saw before dreaming of this. My imagination comes up with some bizarre stuff, but my subconscious is a whole nother matter. If any of this seems strange, blame the little shippy switch that controls my dreams. I am not responsible for my brain - it belongs to a nicer version of Scorpius :) Enjoy!

_

He sat on the Terrace, knees hugged to his chest, staring into the bleakness that surrounded Moya. He watched one star in particular as it twinkled, then, without warning, seemed to fizzle out and die. It seemed a mocking testimony to what he had done not two arns before, and the scientific theory behind the natural phenomenon was erased from his brain, and replaced by two seemingly nonsensical words: Oh frell…

John wondered when he had picked up the lingo of the Uncharted Territories to be able to use it so naturally. What would they think back home? he pondered. Home… Home seemed like a distant memory now. How long have I even been here? Weeks? Months? Years? Frell, am I even a Human? I could have turned Sebacean and not even know it. On further reflection, he figured he couldn't be. No Sebacean would kill their own in cold blood; he doubted even if a Peacekeeper would. He was still Human… he was just losing his humanity, solar day by solar day.

As he sat brooding, he heard footsteps approaching. The lack of any rustling meant that they didn't belong to Zhaan, and they were too heavy to be Chiana, so he narrowed it down to Aeryn and D'Argo. And since Aeryn would probably never speak to him again, that left only D'Argo. The seven-foot Luxan was the last person he wanted to speak to at that moment. As the footsteps entered the Terrace through the door behind him, he didn't turn around.

"Go away," he said, bluntly. The footsteps stopped, mere inches behind him, and their owner said nothing. He noted that they still hadn't gone, however. "I said, go away. I don't want to talk to anyone, especially not you." The voice that answered, mildly hurt, surprised him:

"Well that's just charming, Crichton. I'm sorry I tried to be nice for once. Frell you."

"Aeryn. Wait!" He spun around on his backside to see her retreating back. "I didn't know it was you!" She stopped and turned around to face him. "I thought you were D'Argo." He read the signs and sensed that was the wrong thing to say, attempting to save himself. "I didn't think you'd want to see me again, let alone talk to me."

"Why?"

He blinked at her. "After what I did…" He shook his head, not understanding why she wasn't beating the dren out of him as he sat. He was willing to let her. He watched, amazed, as she walked back and stood over him. She was going to make him talk, and he owed her this one for all the times he'd done the same thing to her. Still, he couldn't quite believe they were in the same room, and he was still alive. He sighed and stretched out his legs, then bent so his fingers met his toes, satisfied at the cracking noise his spine made as he did so.

She was still standing there. No matter how friendly - or rather, he decided, non-murderous - her expression appeared, she was still making him nervous. "You know, Aeryn, it's really not polite to have a conversation towering over me like that."

"So, stand up."

"I don't think I could if I tried." His legs still ached from the running, and he doubted very much that they would support his weight for very long, if at all. She sighed, put her feet either side of his, and crouched down to his level.

"Better?" she asked.

"I guess that'll do," he admitted. They said nothing, simply stared at each other for several microts. He broke the silence. "So… tell me again what you're doing here?"

"I came to talk."

"You? You want to talk?" He was incredulous. Aeryn Sun and talking were two things that he would never associate.

"Don't act so surprised, Crichton," she said, her look wiping the look of shock off his face. Using one of his Earth phrases, she added: "Stranger things have happened."

Well, that was certainly true. Being shot through a wormhole onto the other side of the universe was strange, he had to admit. Meeting curious new lifeforms, most of whom were willing to kill him on sight, including the woman at his feet - that was also strange. However, the idea of Aeryn wanting to talk remained the strangest thing he had encountered by far. He decided to test her 'getting-the-other-person-to-talk-when-they-don't-want-to' technique by keeping quiet until she prodded him into a response. Literally, if necessary.

She was getting impatient, but tried not to let it show. She tried to remember all the times Crichton had done this to her and what he had done to get her to open up. The gentle approach was not one she was accustomed to, so she decided to sort it out as quickly as possible.

"Look, let's just get this over with, all right? Just tell me what the frell is wrong and I'll leave you alone."

"Not exactly subtle, but thank you for taking an interest in my pathetic existence," he said, mildly sarcastically. She wasn't impressed and was just going to tell him so when he got there first. "Hey, don't be getting all uptight with me, Aeryn. This was your idea, not mine. I didn't think you'd even want to be around me after today, but you come in here with your Councillor Sun attitude and expect me to open up to you." He frowned, brought one knee back up to his chest, and leant his head and arm on it.

"Why do you keep saying I wouldn't want to be around you?"

He couldn't believe his ears. Did she really not get it? "Aeryn… I killed a member of one of your former troops at point blank less than two arns ago. How can you stand to be in the room with me? I mean, don't you see me as a cold-blooded, murderous, lesser lifeform now?" There was a pause and then she laughed. Rather than being pleasantly surprised as he normally would be, John was infuriated and frustrated. "Quit laughing at me."

"I'm sorry, Crichton, but this is a new one even for you." She managed to stop laughing and attempted to explain herself, amused further by his disbelief. "You think I knew that man?"

"Didn't you? You managed to point him out in the crowd. By name."

"He used to be in my troop, yes. We were far from friends, in fact we barely even passed the time of day. Just because I know his name doesn't mean I know him personally." She stopped. He looked unconvinced. "I know your name, but I hardly know you."

Well whose fault is that, Miss Holier-than-Thou? he thought, but decided it wiser not to say it to her face. "Okay, so you didn't know him. But he was still one of your shipmates, right?" he asked. Aeryn nodded. "Well if I were you, I'd be really mad at me right now."

"Well you're not me. I'm me. And I'm not mad at you, you are," she clarified. John couldn't help but snicker. Geez, we're making about as much sense as each other, he mused. Those translator microbes must have wondered what's hit 'em. He waited to see what she would say next. "Now you can either talk this through so we can get to the bottom of the problem and stop you brooding about it, or I can just go and you can sit and suffer in silence. Which'll it be?"

"You are far too good at this, Aeryn," he said, conceding defeat. With a sigh, he decided to tell her, straightening his leg out again. "I just hate… killing people." Well, that was… not quite as he expected it to come out. He tried again. "All I seem to have done in this place is rack up a body count, either by myself or with the help of you or D'Argo, and that's not the sort of person I am. Or at least, it's not the sort of person I was, and it's definitely not what I wanted to become." He paused. Time to inject some of the patented Crichton family humour, he thought, and made a lopsided victory sign. "Lover, not a fighter."

"Whose lover?" she asked, eyes narrowing. Is that a hint of jealousy I see? John wondered, wishing he could read her better.

"It's just an expression," he clarified. She looked vaguely relieved. He continued: "I'm just worried that being out here is turning me into some kind of rampant killing machine, hell-bent on revenge. I don't like what I'm turning into, Aeryn. I don't like the fact that I've resorted to violence on far too many occasions where diplomacy would have worked just as well." He sighed again and lay back, folded hands acting as a pillow, staring at the sky as he was before. "I feel like I'm losing what little humanity I have left."

There was a silence. For a moment, he thought she'd actually gone. It wouldn't surprise him if she had after the spiel of 'human nonsense' he had just subjected her to. He was pleasantly surprised when he felt her lightly sit on his knees, and saw her boots appear in his line of vision, somewhere in the region of his shoulders. He didn't move, knowing that it would probably make her move as well, and simply lay there. Just like when he'd first met her and she'd instantly pinned him to the floor in a not-too-similar manner, she was in a dominant position, and could probably kill him on the spot. In one quick movement, she'd have him trapped again, but for once, he didn't feel threatened.

Neither of them said a word until she cut through the silence. "John, I wouldn't worry about losing your humanity here. I'm sure we'll never forget what you are."

"What's that, incompetent? Deficient?" He continued to rally off a list of other negative qualities that he'd been called before now until she interrupted him.

"No. And I'll tell you something else. We've not met anyone else from your species to base you on, but I'm sure you're a prime example. You'd better not lose any of your humanity because you're the only one we've got." She stopped. Unknowingly, she'd managed to praise him. It shocked her slightly, since she'd only ever criticised him before like the others, but then she felt somehow… good. Then she realised that however good she was feeling about it, John was most likely feeling three times better. Without thinking, she added: "And you're also the only one I've got." Almost instantly she realised what she'd just said. Frell!

At that, he sat bolt upright. He'd caught her like a rabbit in headlights, and managed to grab her hands before she could use them to push up from the floor and flee. She pleaded with him silently not to push the matter any further, but there was no way he was going to let that one go. John, please… don't make me explain it… No such luck…

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Frell you, Crichton! She was out of her depth. Their positions had changed and now he was in control… she hated that. "Nothing. It's… nothing." With any luck, he'd let her go, satisfied with that answer. As it transpired, her luck was running out fast.

"Nothing, my ass!" he said. She flinched and he softened his tone slightly. "It's not a crime to be nice to someone, Aeryn. I just want to know what you meant." His voice might have allowed her more freedom, but her hands were still captured, effectively immobilising her. I can't even kick him from this position… what I wouldn't give to be able to give him a Pantak jab right about now… She struggled to get free but he only held tighter. "Nuh-uh. You're not going anywhere until you explain yourself." She knew he wasn't joking.

She mentally cursed herself for getting into this mess, and thought of the most logical and believable answer she could. All of her composure disappeared when she dared to notice that he was moving his thumbs over the spot where they touched her hands. She wasn't sure whether she liked it or not. Realising that he'd probably want an answer, and uncertain of how much more she could endure without cracking, she answered. "It's true. You're the only one I've got." What the hezmana am I talking about?

"Yeah, okay, I heard that part. What's it mean?"

"It means… what it says. You are the only human I've ever encountered, and, alien as you are, you're the closest thing to a Sebacean on this ship. You're…" she sighed. "You're the only one keeping me sane, even though you drive me crazy with your strange Earp sayings and mannerisms and… frell, John, you're the closest thing I've got to home." Hoping that it made sense, she stopped and awaited his reaction, trying to read his face as he took in the information. He smiled slightly, obviously trying not to grin.

"I… see…" was all he could manage. Realising that it didn't sound particularly coherent, he tried to think of a better answer. "So you're saying… I remind you of home?"

Relieved that he partially understood (or at least understood what little she had told him), she smiled. "Yes. That's exactly it."

"I'm… flattered." She wasn't sure what to say to that. Luckily, he wasn't finished. "Aeryn, is my reminding you of home a good thing… or a bad thing?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out as well," she admitted. "I suppose… it's a good thing and a bad thing." He simply looked at her, urging her to finish the train of thought. "It's a good thing when I need to be reminded… and a bad thing when you act so completely alien that I don't understand you." Why am I so bad at this? John knew what she was trying to say and clarified it out loud, for her if not for himself.

"So when I'm being all crazy and Human it's a bad thing because I look Sebacean but don't act like it… and that makes it seem like you're the only one of your kind on Moya… but when I'm being…" he thought carefully. "When I'm being more like a Peacekeeper, that's good because you feel like you're in the majority." A pause. "Right?"

How does he know these things?! she asked herself, somewhat annoyed that he was so much better at 'personal' talk than she was. "Right."

"I know exactly what you mean," he admitted. "It's the same with me - sometimes I think I have you figured out, because you do something, anything that's remotely Human… and then at other times, you'll go and do something completely Peacekeeper and I'll remember how different we are." There was a contemplative silence while the two of them digested the information provided by each other. Another, apparently pointless, question entered her mind.

"So does this make us both Human, or both Sebacean?"

"Maybe we're…" he thought for several microts. "Humacean?" He smiled, then grinned when she smiled back. They sat there in silence again, not sure how to continue. Aeryn had almost forgotten about the fact that she disliked not being in control, suddenly focussing instead on the realisation that her hands had decided to work independent of her brain. At the beginning of the conversation, John had been holding her… now it appeared to be the other way around, or at the very least, a mutual linking of fingers. Uncertain whether she liked this, she opted for deciding she didn't, and pulled her hands away, embarrassed. She tried to ignore the look of hurt that overtook his features, beyond his control.

"Sorry, John, I…" she trailed off. He seemed to be so good at knowing what she was saying, so she was just going to let him interpret this comment as well. Relieved that she hadn't got up and run, he held up his own hands in mock defeat.

"That's okay. I guess we're back to 'a bad thing' again." He seemed saddened by this but didn't pursue the issue further, to her relief. Then, he realised something. "Hey, you are pretty good at this. You got my mind off my problem. What were we talking about?"

Almost instantly, she answered, glad to get back into a situation she could handle. "You were afraid you were losing your humanity."

"Oh yeah. I was." Memory refreshed, he sighed. Looking at her, pleading silently for an answer, he asked: "Do you think I have?" There was no reply. She needed more to go on. "Do you think I've become less than I was? Have I changed since I first got stuck here?"

"We've all changed, Crichton. There's no denying that."

"Okay, I buy that. I know that we've changed… but… have I changed for the better or the worse?" Again, there was no answer. "I just need to know that I'm not going to turn into some kind of alien serial killer or something. That's what I feel like I'm becoming." Please tell me I'm not. I have to know I'm still… me…

"You won't." She stopped. "You don't have it in you." He wasn't sure whether this was a positive or negative observation, but decided it was better not to ask. "I mean, come on, I've been sitting on you for nearly a quarter-arn and you've done nothing about it!" He wisely remained silent about exactly why he'd done nothing, instead coming up with another excuse.

"That's probably because I can't actually feel my legs." She made to get up but he stopped her. "I didn't say 'move'. I'd rather have you cut off my circulation, knowing that my legs are still there, than have them chopped off by Zhaan in her infinite wisdom." Satisfied that she was staying put, at least for the time being, he risked taking her hands again. His tone transformed from light-hearted to serious as his train of thought completed another circuit. "Seriously… I need you to tell me I'm still who I think I am."

She didn't answer straight away, just regarded him with interest. He suddenly seemed very, very small, and lost in a curious world full of aliens he had yet to encounter, let alone understand. He was counting on her to restore his identity… to restore his humanity… everything he stood for. She wasn't sure if she was up to the task. Yet he was dependent on her to the end, and by looking into his eyes she knew why. She saw in them a deep fear - he was terrified that he had lost his mind and didn't know how to find it again - and a desperate need for reassurance. Aeryn… tell me I'm not crazy…

After what seemed like an interminable pause for John, she leant forward to take him into her arms. He needed comfort that she didn't know how to provide with words, resorting to simply stating: "You're still you, John." It seemed to work, as he returned the gesture.

They sat there for what felt like arns, until Aeryn was sure that he was going to be all right. Simultaneously, they released each other and she pushed herself to her feet, swaying slightly from having sat for so long. John remained on the floor.

"Are you going to stay there forever?"

"Unless I can get my limbs working, yes."

"Come on, fellow Humacean," she said, smirking. "You need to sleep." She held out a hand to help him up, which he very nearly declined until he realised he definitely couldn't stand up of his own volition. Pulling him to his feet, she then supported most of his weight until he managed to co-ordinate his feet into something resembling a walk. Together they negotiated Moya's vast expanse of bronze corridors back to his quarters, where she let him go to use the wall for support. "Well," she said, awkwardly, "I'll be going."

"Right." If he wasn't so focussed on remaining upright, he'd have been more regretful. She was glad he didn't lay on a guilt-trip. Nodding, she made to leave. "Hey, Aeryn?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks." He didn't have to say for what. She smiled, the strange 'good' feeling rushing over her again, and left without another word… Convincing a Human that he was still Human was one thing… but she didn't want him convincing her she was Human as well.

Watching her leave, John thanked her again, silently. The feeling was beginning to return to his legs, but beyond that he felt something else… he was happy, but he didn't know why. It was infuriating as hell… but at least it proved he was still who he thought. Thank you, Aeryn…

T H E E N D