SUNSHINE AND SNOWDRIFTS
SUMMARY:John dreams of Sunshine and snowdrifts… Aww =)
RATING:PG to be safe, but probably more of a G. Just to prove the Queen of Angst can take a break once in a while!
DISCLAIMER:Not my characters, not my original situation, and not for profit. I promise to give them back afterwards.
SPOILERS/SETTING:Spoilers for "DMD", set… A/U future fic. Actually, set post-S3 after all the relationship dren has been sorted out, and also set in the "DMD" timeline… you'll see…
AUTHOR'S NOTES:I think I have a John-Muse now, because this wasn't angst enough to be Aeryn's… This is a John-finally-tells-her fic, because I miss writing them, and S3 will leave a lot to be desired and a lot of problems to be fixed, and frankly I'm just not in the mood… Besides which, it's snowing! Snow does not necessarily equal angst! Anyway, enjoy…
Sunshine and Snowdrifts
© T'eyla Minh 2001 (only just!)
John Crichton was in that curious state somewhere between utter disbelief and agonising realisation… and it hurt like Hezmana. His skull was pounding, and there was an empty cavity where his heart should have been. It was all his own fault, really.
Aeryn was dead, lying in a coffin before him, surrounded by still falling snow, pure, ice white against the black of her hair. He had killed her. The fact that he had been under Scorpius' control didn't register in his mind. The woman he had never had a chance to love was gone.
He felt the sobs wracking his body, but no tears fell, and an image he'd never even witnessed travelled unbidden to his brain as he closed his eyes. Aeryn. Falling from the sky, trapped, crashing into the water, calling his name before the depths claimed her. He opened them again to worse - the final, brutal truth he was unable to escape from. Aeryn. Dead.
The images ran repeatedly whenever he blinked, so in a futile attempt to stop the cycle, he kept them closed. He witnessed it all one more time… and then… there was silence and total darkness. After a few microts, it was John himself who was sinking, murky grey water covering his head. He succumbed to it willingly… until he saw Aeryn kicking her way to the surface. He watched, reached out and flailed about blindly, sinking ever deeper and unable to scream…
John sat up in bed with a gasp. He took a few deep breaths to clear his head, and looked around. Moya. He was alive at least, but where-?
There was movement next to him as another body slowly sat up, and a familiar hand rubbed the back of his neck. He turned his head to see Aeryn, very much alive, and concerned.
"It happened again, didn't it?" she asked. John nodded. "Which was it this time? Scorpius, or-"
"The other one."
Aeryn nodded understandingly, sympathetically, knowing the dream as well as he did. He had it often, and would always wake with an intense fear of it being true.
"It's so vivid…" he said. "Every time. All I see is you, and that damn seat, and-"
"Sshh… I know," she interrupted, pulling him close in comfort. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight, as if his very life depended on her presence. They sat in a similar manner for a few microts before lying down again.
On his side, with Aeryn's back to his chest and his arms still around her, he felt inexplicably protected.
"Sorry to keep waking you up like this," he said.
"It's beyond either of our controls. Don't worry."
He loosened his grip so she could roll over to face him and they settled again, closer. It was a nightly ritual; neither could sleep until it was completed.
"Why the heck do you put up with me, anyway?" he asked, quietly.
"I have absolutely no frelling idea…" she offered. John smiled and kissed her softly, then laughed when she added: "Now, shut up and let me sleep."
Soon, they were both comfortably asleep, and before long, John started to dream again. He was back on the ice planet, he realised with some dismay, staring back down at Aeryn's lifeless body in her glass tomb. The others - D'Argo, Chiana, Zhaan - had left him alone to his thoughts.
Kneeling by the pod, he was struck by how much she reminded him of Snow White, and idly wondered if the legendary "Love's First Kiss' would work in reality. It wouldn't be their first, and he supposed most likely it wouldn't work, but tried it anyway. He kissed her lightly, and whispered the words he had longed to say and that she would never hear.
As anticipated, nothing happened.
He sighed, looked skywards, and appealed to whatever classed as Heaven in the Uncharted Territories. "I wish… I wish there was some way to change this…" He looked back down at her. "I wish I could bring you back, turn back time… anything…"
Unable to hold in the grief, he buried his head in his hands and blocked the world from view.
The silence abruptly ended.
"Crichton, what the frell are you doing?"
He looked up to find the pod gone, and a very alive, mildly irritated Aeryn standing over him. His mind screamed that he should be euphorically happy, but the reason why evaded him as the current situation replaced it.
"Uh… nothing," he said. "Did Chiana get the last of the supplies loaded?"
She nodded. "Yes, but then you'd disappeared so they sent me to find you. So let's go."
"Okay, but I wanna show you something first." He stood up, and held out a hand with which to lead her. She examined it dubiously before taking it. John grinned and dragged her further away from their transport pod, into the barren, snow-covered tundra ahead.
"John, what are you-"
He stopped abruptly, causing her to nearly fall over him, and indicated the landscape that unfolded in front of them. He seemed in awe.
"Isn't it great?!"
"It's just snow…"
He looked surprised. "Something tells me you've never had a snowball fight…"
He chuckled. "I'll take that as my answer." He patted the snow, testing it like a professional. "We've got a little time yet before the others start to worry. I'll show you what I mean. Stay there."
She sighed, but obeyed, then watched as he walked a little way and picked up a handful of snow. He moulded it into a vaguely spherical shape, and brought it over. Aeryn took it, stared at it, and gave him a questioning look.
"That," he explained, "is a snowball."
"You've really never done this before?" She shook her head. "Geez…" Backing away, he ordered: "Throw it."
She shrugged and half-heartedly threw it in his direction, missing him completely. "There."
"Aw, come on! Is that the best you can do?"
"Apparently. Now, let's get going!"
"You mean to tell me a badass ex-Peacekeeper can't aim for toffee?"
She ignored the translation glitch, and turned to walk back. John watched, smiled evilly, and picked up another handful of snow. "Yo. Aeryn!"
As soon as she turned to face him, he hurled his latest weapon at her. It landed squarely on her left shoulder and exploded over most of the rest of her. She tried to look unimpressed, but John's giggling was annoyingly infectious.
"Oh. I see…" she said slowly, stooping to gather a handful for herself. She was deliberately calm, testing the weight of it several times. Suddenly, he sneezed, looking away and providing her with an opportunity. She threw it, hitting him hard in the chest.
He coughed and brushed off the excess snow. "Now that's more like it…"
Before too long, an all-out war broke out. A quarter of an arn later, the transport pod completely forgotten, they were still battling. Each of them hid behind a makeshift ice bunker, with a dwindling pile of ammunition by their sides. Neither of them would concede defeat.
Aeryn spotted movement and reached for a snowball, readying herself for an attack. When he moved again, she threw it, and "Yesss!"ed when it landed directly on target.
"You hit me on the head…"
"Sorry. You all right?" There was silence. "John?" Carefully, she ventured from behind her pile of slush, and approached his. Peering over the edge of his bunker, she found him flat out on the floor. "John…?"
She leaned over further to check for a pulse, panic beginning to mount. Snow couldn't have done that much damage, surely, even if it had ice in it. Two microts later, she found herself on the floor next to him on her stomach, where he'd pulled her.
"Oh, very mature…" she complained, getting up and shaking ice out of her hair. It seemed like she was going to give up… until she dumped a pile of snow on his legs.
She was already halfway back by the time he'd struggled to his feet.
"You know what?" he asked.
"I think we should stop now."
"Am not! I'm just sensible enough to know when to quit before hypothermia sets in."
He ventured forwards, arms held up in a gesture of surrender. Aeryn nodded and met him. They shook hands.
"Thanks, though. Best fight I ever had," he complimented, grinning.
"My pleasure," she answered… then shoved a final handful of snow down the back of his coat before running off. John screamed, shook himself to get it out, then gave chase, overtaking her and tackling her from the side. They both landed heavily in a snowdrift.
"That wasn't fair!"
"Nor was the ice-down-the-back trick you pulled on me!"
"Is this game normally so… violent?"
"It depends who's playing… my sisters used to do that to me as well. Guess I should have seen it coming."
There was a momentary pause as they both realised the compromising position they'd ended up in. Aeryn was effectively trapped between him and the ground, and her attempt at escape hadn't got much further than placing her hands on his shoulders to push him off.
Now or never, Johnny boy…he thought. "Aeryn?"
"I have to… um… to tell you something."
"What do you have to tell me, John?" She smiled. He smiled back.
They seemed to inch closer for an eternity before he kissed her. Gaining all the strength he needed from Aeryn, he managed to pull himself away long enough to look at her. Finally, he knew. It was time. Nobody was in immediate danger and she would live long enough to kill him if it all went wrong…
He shifted his body weight and rolled off her into a sitting position next to her. Aeryn sat up as well, keeping her gaze fixed to him. Looking her in the eyes, John waited the exact right amount of time before he said it.
"I love you."
He breathed out after what seemed like an arn of holding his breath, and waited for her reaction. He really wasn't sure what it would be, but knew that if she said it back, he'd probably have a heart attack. John knew she wasn't entirely ready to face… whatever it was she felt for him, if anything… but he could still hope. If only he could read her expression…
She started to raise a hand and he anticipated the blow… but nothing came. Instead, she rested the palm of her hand against his cheek, and smiled almost imperceptibly. He figured this was probably a good thing. After thinking, Aeryn spoke. "I know, John… I'm sure you appreciate how… difficult this is for me. I'm not used to feeling things. Especially with you. But I have to tell you this…"
"Ssh, you don't have to. If it's too difficult, I'll wait…" He moved a strand of snow-soaked hair from her face. "I'll wait forever, just as long as you know how I feel…"
"No, John, I do have to. It's driving me insane…" John nodded and smiled encouragingly. "I'm not even sure if this is what I think it is… but in any case, what I think is that… I love you."
It took a while for the words to register. John started blankly at her for several microts. Then he reacted, leaning forward to wrap his arms around her in relief and surprise. "Oh my God, Aeryn! You have no idea how much that means to me…" He pulled back from her again, suddenly uncertain. "Are you sure?"
She nodded. "Yes."
John was just about to kiss her again when the moment was ruined by a familiar gruff voice cutting through the air.
John groaned. "He has the worst timing…" He forced himself to his feet and helped Aeryn off the ground as D'Argo rounded the corner. "We'll finish this discussion later…"
The Luxan spotted them and waited for them to come to him, figuring he had walked far enough to get them already. He noted their rather bedraggled and soggy appearance with interest.
"What the frell happened to you?"
"Long story, Big Guy…"
John awoke again, momentarily confused. Had any of that really happened? It seemed so real, he wasn't entirely sure whether or not it was a memory.
His slight movement also woke Aeryn, still in his arms.
"S'okay. Good dream this time. I think… just kinda weird…"
"Doesn't matter…" He paused, and tried to remember how they'd come to be like this, finding that he couldn't. Had he ever told her? Or had they simply fallen into a relationship because there was nothing else for it? The memory completely evaded him. "Hey, Aeryn?"
"Have I ever told you I love you?"
She laughed. "Frequently. More than you need to…"
"Oh, good…" He paused again. "Did you always know?"
With that, they settled again, both falling into a blissful, dreamless sleep…