By Jess Pallas.
Disclaimer; I don't own Farscape or any of its characters. Please don't sue me!
Feedback; Go on then! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Archiving; If you like it, take it. But please, let me know first.
Rating: PG I guess. But be warned – this fic contains some pretty heavy emotions dealing with grief and suicide.
Category; Drama, Angst.
Spoilers; TWWW, DNAMS, IP, TC, DMD, LATP.
Timeframe; Post Fractures.
Summary: Pilot tries to help Aeryn face her loss.
Was he doing the right thing? The thought played through his mind like a wrathful spectre, teasing, taunting, tearing at his resolve, but angrily he fought it down. It was far too late for self-doubt now – the call had been made, the event set in motion – Aeryn Sun was coming. He was not even sure of what he planned to say – he only knew that he had to say something. He had watched them as they suffered, watched her in disbelief – could this really be the same woman he had once counted as his closest friend? The pain in his eyes, the emptiness in hers – it couldn't go on. Someone had to do something and quickly, and since no one else on Moya seemed capable of piercing of heart of the matter, Pilot had reluctantly concluded that the task must fall to him.
Things could not go on like this.
The soft hum of the door to his chamber revealed that he had company. Reluctantly, he lifted his eyes from the flashing gyrations of his panels, his golden gaze sweeping across the walkway to fix upon the hard-edged figure striding towards him, her blue eyes cold as ice and twice as empty. Her dark hair was tied back in a harsh plait, a slick, black dome that undulated with the contours of her head, her shadowed features a sharp play of light and shade that created a vivid mask. There was no emotion behind her eyes.
She looked like a peacekeeper.
She was a peacekeeper.
Pilot fought down a shiver. It was like staring at an image from his past.
"You wanted to see me?" Her voice was brisk, her words bland and precise. All business. There was no hint that she had ever regarded him as a friend. It was disturbing to behold. Surely she could not have changed so much?
"That is correct." If she could be all business, so could he. "There is a problem here on Moya that requires your attention."
Her head tilted imperceptibly. "What is this problem?"
Pilot's eyes fixed implacably upon the ice-cold depths of the Sebacean. "You."
Her eyes flickered but her façade was unchanged. "What about me?"
Pilot took a breath, forcing himself to stay calm. He could do this. He had to do this. "I was hoping you could tell me." The words were strained, laced with tightly reined emotion. The navigator felt his anxiety rise in a turbulent up-swell – his feelings, carefully controlled until now, began to leak into his voice. "Ever since your return to Moya, you have been colder than you were in the tomb. Why are you doing this, Aeryn? Why are you acting like a peacekeeper?"
Her face could have been carved from stone, her expression unreadable. Her icy gaze was unrelenting. "I am a peacekeeper."
Pilot snapped, his resolve to be calm and clear-headed abruptly swamped by a flood of desperation, anger and fear.
"Not any more!" he bellowed, his cry echoing from wall to wall within his chamber, a bouncing fading crescendo of sound lost in the vastness around him. It seemed to mock him, a taunting repetition of heartfelt words that fell upon deaf ears. All he wanted, more than anything else, was to talk to his best friend. But he had to find her first, beneath encrusted layers of ice.
He had never liked the cold.
He took a breath, hoping to calm down and found that he could not. Aeryn had not moved. Her expression was unchanged.
It wasn't working.
He decided to change tactics. He sighed deeply, meeting her unforgiving gaze with a kind a bravery he hadn't known that he possessed.
"I want to speak to Aeryn," he said firmly.
"Officer Sun is here. I want to speak to Aeryn."
Was that a flinch? It fluttered across her features and was gone, too quick for Pilot to read, but he felt a surge of hope within his heart. Perhaps…
"Aeryn, I know you're in there." He leaned forward, his eyes intense beneath his frowning brows. "I lost my best friend when you departed on Talyn and I haven't got her back yet. I just want to understand where she has gone."
Officer Sun regarded him. "This is ridiculous," she stated.
Pilot's eyes narrowed. "I'm not talking to you."
There was a glimmer deep within the sparkling depths of blue. "The person you want is no longer here."
"Not good enough!" Pilot reared up angrily behind his console, his eyes burning like infant suns. "I liked you because you were different, Aeryn. Because you showed a glimmer of compassion in spite of your training. Because you were more than even you believed you could be. But since you've been away, you've changed. You've become one of them again, a drone, a grunt, a mindless killer and I hate it! We all hate it!" There was no reaction in her face, which was probably just as well. Pilot hesitated, knowing he was moving into extremely hazardous ground, but also painfully aware that it simply had to be done. "
His voice lowered to a gentle hush. "I know how much it hurts to lose someone you love. Pain is a subject I'm very familiar with, in case you've forgotten. I've experienced hurt that you can't imagine – like you, I've been to the brink. But I came back and I learned from that precipice. Pain cannot be ignored because unless you face it head on, your life might as well be over. Suppressing it is pointless – it never goes away. But if you attack with all your heart, you can at least find a release." His eyes bored into hers, fire assaulting ice and inside Aeryn Sun, he could sense something was melting. His voice was low, but his words crystal clear. "You can't ignore him forever. Either of them."
He'd struck a nerve – he could see it instantly. The rock-hard demeanour wavered for a microt; for a brief, euphoric instant he caught a fleeting glimpse of his friend. But then the walls closed in, the defences slammed into place and the emotions dissolved into insubstantial air. Officer Sun drew herself up, her face a mask hewn from diamond.
"I don't have to listen to this," she informed him frostily. Abruptly, she turned on her heel, her back ramrod straight, her body taut as a well-tuned shilquin as she strode purposefully towards the door. Pilot felt a shimmer of alarm. She couldn't leave now! He'd been getting through to her, he was certain of it. For an instant, a fleeting, intangible instant, he had breeched her defences. If he could strike again with equal precision, perhaps he could bring them down.
He couldn't let her go. It was too important.
His claw moved in a single darting action. With a soft sigh, the door ground to a close.
Aeryn halted. Her body was a solid line against the darkness, motionless, unresponsive at the far end of the walkway, her eyes boring into the solid door as though she intended to shatter it with her gaze. She did not turn.
"Open this door." Her voice was low, but icily clear; the words were a command. "Let me out. Now."
Pilot didn't waver. Internally, he stiffened his resolve. He would see this though to it's conclusion – whatever that was going to be.
I'll let you out when you let yourself out," he replied, his voice matching hers for soft clarity. "And not before."
Still she would not face him. "You cannot keep me here forever."
Pilot's features were a grim mask. "I can try."
She turned. The motion was swift and deadly, the fluid action of a warrior trained from birth. Her arm rose in a rapid arc – her fingers gripped the grim jet mass of her pulse pistol, levelled unhesitatingly at the unswerving form of Moya's navigator. There was no emotion in her face, no anger, no fury, no malice; she had no desire to kill but also no compunction against doing so. She was a peacekeeper and this was a peacekeeper's solution.
"Let me out," she repeated firmly.
Pilot shook his head. "No."
The flare of red ignited the chamber; abruptly Aeryn's pistol was gone, spinning from her hand to be swallowed by the oblivious depths of the lower chamber. The Sebacean started back in surprise at the sudden disappearance of her weapon, showing the first glimmer of genuine emotion that Pilot had seen since her return. She paused, her expression uncertain as she rubbed her tingling hand, eyes sweeping the walkway until they fixed upon the isolated form of a single DRD. A gun barrel glistened against its yellow casing.
Her eyes shifted to Pilot. The navigator gazed right back.
"Let's keep this civilised, shall we?" he stated blandly.
"Civilised?" There was a hint of anger beneath the frosty demeanour – not quite what Pilot had been hoping for but at least it was a start. "You call holding me prisoner civilised?"
"Well, it's more civilised than your behaviour lately," he retorted coldly. "And if this is what it takes to get you to listen to me, then I have no compunction against doing it!"
"You can't just keep me here!" Aeryn took a few sharp steps back towards the console. The flash of anger in her features was becoming more pronounced but there was something more too, something stronger, deeper, better concealed, but at the same time all consuming.
She was afraid of him.
Not because she was a prisoner. Not because he was armed and she was not. She did not fear her life or her safety – a part of her would surely know that he would never hurt her. No.
She feared what he might say.
And what she might feel.
Pilot smiled. Progress.
"I can and I will," he responded brusquely. "You people always seem to forget that this is my ship and you remain at my pleasure! Just because I don't exercise those rights as vocally as I could does not mean they do not exist! I will let you out when I am done with you and not before! Now I am going to talk and you are going to listen. Understand?"
A nod. Grudging and barely perceivable, but definitely there. Good.
It was time to strike with the full force of his arsenal. It felt wrong, felt cruel but it was the only way. Sweet reason had made no impact – the only breaches in her barricade were born of harsh emotion. So he had to make her feel.
Whether she wanted to or not.
Pilot drew himself up, his amber eyes cold as Aeryn's. A part of him deep inside squirmed at the thought of the pain he was about to inflict upon his closest friend but he decisively sealed it away.
It was time.
"So he's dead." The words echoed harshly against the distant chamber walls. "He's dead, and it hurts too much to go on. The world is a mask of pain and you feel as though nothing will ever be right again. Your soul is tearing and you can't fix it. But time can. It passes, Aeryn. You can't see it now, you're blinded; all you can see is the gaping hollow. But you have to realise that it isn't always like this. Until you came to Moya, you never knew the pain that can be born of feeling true emotion, you had no experience of utter loss. You were trained not to have such weak thoughts, to always be in control. My people are trained so too. But you and I are no longer slaves to our training."
He gave a wan smile. There was no expression on Aeryn's face – her eyes were shadowed in the depths of their sockets. She hadn't moved.
Pilot hurried on, fighting his own bad memories as he drew on every piece of hurt he had ever felt in a fervent attempt to empathise. "It feels like the anguish will never end, like living like this is a burden and nobody will ever understand the horror it is to be you. But you are not alone. You are not the first person to suffer loss; you certainly won't be the last." He broke off, taking a harsh breath. Fleeting memories of his past, his time on his home-world, the pain of his bonding to Moya, losing her to the Builder Ka'heynu, losing Aeryn to the ice flow and Zhaan to the Goddess, surfaced to taunt him like stabbing blades. He forced the pain away and continued, pushing his golden gaze against the force of her icy glare. "But you don't have to lose yourself as well."
Aeryn didn't move. "Let me out," she said softly.
Pilot ignored her, frantically raking his mind. It wasn't working – or if it was she was hiding it well. He had only two gambits left – two gambits he had hoped he would not have to use.
But she had given him no choice.
This was going to hurt him as much as her.
"What about Zhaan?" The harsh words seemed almost to have come from the mouth of someone else. "Have you forgotten her so soon? She gave her life so you could live, traded her health so you could stand here now. Don't you care? Do you hold her in such low esteem that her sacrifice means nothing? Would you waste the most precious gift she had to give? What would she think if she could see you now? Can you imagine her disappointment, her regret at the life she lost but could have led, the healing she could have done, and the beauty and the holiness that she could have experienced were given up so that you could indulge your misery? I lost one of the dearest friends I could have had so that another dear friend could live. Within you are all that remains of the two people besides Moya that I have cared most about in my life. If you are lost, beyond Moya, I have nothing. Are you so selfish as to waste that legacy?"
A whisper of discomfort shimmered beneath Aeryn's stern features; when she spoke, a barely noticeable shiver underlined her tone.
"Let me out," she said.
Pilot's eyes glimmered darkly. Last chance. Hardest chance. He braced himself.
"And what of him?" He did not know quite what other term to use but the flicker in Aeryn's eyes implied that she knew of whom he spoke. "Do you think that this is the way that he would want you to behave? He who changed you so in the first place? He who loved so much what you had become?" He was speculating wildly, based on the knowledge he could infer from the Crichton aboard Moya, but the tremor of Aeryn's lower lip indicated his guesswork was hitting the mark. "He despised peacekeepers as much as he loved you. It would rend his heart to see the woman he loved so ruthless again and so alone. Can you imagine what he would feel to see you like this? Or perhaps you don't have to imagine. Just look into the eyes of the man aboard Moya and you'll see his feelings clear as day. He would be so sad."
"Let me out!" Aeryn lunged forward, slapping her hands against his console with a force that made it shudder. Her voice was desperate and anxious, her body shaking. Tears melted free of the ice in her eyes.
But Pilot would not relent. "You have a second chance, Aeryn. It must be strange to look at him and see all you've lost. But losing it once does not mean you can't have it again."
His voice dropped to a whisper. "Talk to him. If not for him, then for yourself. He loves you."
"No!" Aeryn's voice was a scream. Slapping her hands against her ears, she reeled away from Pilot, her tears flowing freely now as she fought to subdue the terrible power of her own mind. Suddenly afraid that he had gone too far, the navigator lunged forward, trying to gain a grip on her before she did something impulsively foolish, but she slipped free of his grasp and in three quick strides had reached the edge of the walkway. Her eyes gazed down into the vast abyss, her feet teetering precariously on the rim as she battled to regain her breath, her hands a twisting balance that could save as quickly as undo. Pilot felt a shiver of fear.
"Aeryn?" he called out anxiously.
"I'll jump." The words were harsh and sharply punctuated. "I'll jump if you don't let me out."
She was bluffing. The realisation hit Pilot with the force of an errant meteor. She had heard the fear in his voice as he called out to her and seized upon his weakness to achieve her escape. He forced himself to be calm. He had shown a crack in his façade and she had weaselled in. This was a battle of masks and he had to hold firm.
The words that slipped from his lips were the hardest he had ever spoken – deep inside he prayed to every deity, real or imagined, within range that he was not mistaken.
"Go on then," he intoned indifferently. "Jump."
She didn't turn but he could sense her confusion – she hadn't expected that reaction. Determinedly he ploughed on. "Well what do I care? My friend is dead. It makes no difference to me whether the shell that remains chooses to hide from her pain in death."
"I'm not hiding." Aeryn's voice was raw.
"Yes you are." Pilot struggled to maintain his tone of fleeting disinterest. "You think it's a battle but it's not – it's a retreat. You've given in to the pain – you've let it take your life. You are lost – the pain is all you have. And even in death, that pain will be your legacy."
"It'll be gone."
"No, it won't. Because everyone you leave behind will feel it. And they will feel it more for they have to contend with your pain on top of their own. You will be remembered for your pain. People will think of it when they think of you and it will go on and on until every person who ever cared for you is dead. You will make the pain immortal. Is that what you want? I know what it is to hurt, Aeryn. I've stood at the precipice where you're standing now. A cycle and a half ago, I tried to escape just as you have. I thought that if I let death take me, if I hid from the truth of what I was feeling behind anger and recrimination, then the pain would be gone. I faced death head on and I thought I was brave. I wasn't. I was a coward. I was running away because I was too afraid to face a life that hurt. And it was you that made me see that." He hesitated, knowing what he was about to say would make or break their futures. "We've come a long way since then, Aeryn. And we've still got a long way to go. Take the journey with me."
The silence echoed. There was no sound, no motion, only the soft breath of the two beings dwarfed by a cavern of darkness and a magnitude of bitter emotion. The air shivered like death.
Aeryn's voice seemed to crack – she forced out two simple words into the oppressive atmosphere as though to bring it crashing down. Pilot stared at her shaking figure, still rocking on the brink and gently tilted his head. "Of course it hurts," he said softly.
"Life hurts. You just have to find something to dull the pain."
There was a pause. "Talk to him."
The gentle whirring shimmered through the heavy air, shredding it to ribbons. The door was open.
Aeryn's head turned slightly – her eyes fixed upon the golden ribs of Moya's passageway visible beyond the threshold. Her fists seemed to clench.
She stepped back.
It was a single glance. A brief twitch over her shoulder. For a single, eternal instant, Aeryn's eyes met the gaze of her friend. Deep inside, there was a hint of gratitude.
And then she strode across the walkway and was gone.
Pilot sighed. Well.
Had he made a difference? It was hard to say. Only time would tell if his words had had any real effect upon the peacekeeper. Would they remain tangled in her heart or would she close them away once more? He didn't know. He could only wait and see.
But that one instant had been telling.
At least he knew now that Aeryn was in there somewhere.
So Pilot waited.