COIN WITH TWO SIDES
SUMMARY: A missing scene from the Season 3 finale, "Dog With Two Bones", set mere microts after the coin-toss scene.
RATING: G. But only for the emotionally stable. I will not be held responsible for sobbing piles of people this time. Read at your own risk.
SETTING/SPOILERS: Set in "DWTB", therefore spoilers for the season 3 finale!!! Do not read unless you want to ruin the ending! There is a line or two from the actual episode, so I highly recommend, unless you like spoilers, to wait until April before you read this =) (Also some minor spoilers for "Mind The Baby" and "Look At The Princess III")
DISCLAIMER: The characters aren't mine. After what David Kemper did to them in the finale, however, I think I should adopt them and give them a better home ;)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Spoilers contained here, too!!! Contains lines from the episode!! Okay, so I've re-watched twice, watched the final fifteen minutes about ten times, and finally managed to stop crying long enough to form something which I hope is vaguely coherent. I know 'missing scene' sounds cheesy, but really, this isn't much better than the original. If you want a happy ending, go somewhere else. This is set between the coin-toss and Aeryn's final goodbye. (That, by the way, was what killed me on about the sixth re-watch. That, and the awful way John's voice faltered when he said "And what does that taste like?", which immediately had me reaching for the rewind button through floods of tears so I could check I heard it right…) I twisted Aeryn's goodbye a tad, too, just to suit my purposes, but the line is the same… Anyhoo, this may be shippy, but in the same way as the episode. The Queen is feeling angstier than ever. You have been warned…
Coin With Two Sides
© T'eyla Minh 2002
The disc seemed to spin for an eternity, slowing as it reached its pinnacle. Briefly, it stopped, as if contemplating the situation and making up its mind, before it began its descent.
In that brief moment, when time halted, something else happened. Aeryn tore her eyes from the disc and faced her fears, returning her gaze to John, although she knew not why. Neither of them moved, seemingly trapped in the web they had woven together. Even the gentle humming of Moya was inaudible in their private cacophony of silence.
The disc fell, gathering speed, passing between them, ignored.
It struck with a sharp crack of metal on biomechanical surface, and their heads moved simultaneously to observe the outcome. They watched, outwardly calm and inwardly turmoiled. It spun, top-like, on its edge; once, twice, three times, each more slowly than its predecessor. Again, it stopped, deciding.
It toppled. There was complete stillness.
As one, they stooped for closer scrutiny, and gasped collectively, the intake of breath seeming more like a stab to the heart. Fate had spoken, and the decision lay with them…
John was the first to stand, recollecting the disc as he did so. Aeryn's gaze delayed in following him - she met his eyes two microts after he had straightened, and kept her eyes fixed to his as she stood.
He began to fidget with the disc, absently. Finally, he spoke, uncertain.
"Well… I guess… I stay." His tone was sombre and questioning; his voice, quiet and tremulous. "You can go now…" He seemed small, lost.
Defeated by her complete lack of response, he turned and began to walk away. She was right: they did not say goodbyes.
Only when his back was turned did Aeryn react. Tears she had been attempting to conceal flowed unheeded, but she remained silent, unwilling to let him see her cry. John reached the doorway and paused briefly, instinctually sensing it just the same. He did not turn to face her, however, instead choosing to think carefully. Nothing had been easy; nothing had ever been this difficult. He knew it should not end this way.
He turned again. She was motionless. Before he could approach, she spoke, startling him despite her quiet tone.
"So, you're just going to walk away?"
"You were going to…" he retaliated, hating himself instantly.
She nodded, and swallowed the sob that was trying to emerge. John took two steps closer. Aeryn breathed deeply, collecting her thoughts, and continued.
"You have no idea," she said, her speech somewhat laboured and controlled. "All you see is me, and you're blinded by this insane fantasy that we'll be Happy Ever After." John almost missed her use of the Earth phrase, listening, engrossed. "There is no Happy Ever After. I could go with you, you could go with me, but it wouldn't be right. It would never be right… and I can't keep coming back." She paused. John remained silent. "You have no frelling idea how much it hurts, knowing what you want, and knowing I can't be what you want. I just… I can't do this any more, Crichton."
He bridged the gap between them to stand before her, closer than he should. "John," he said. "My name… is John…" He reached up a hand, cautiously, and cleared the tears now staining her cheeks, ignoring his own. He did not remove the hand. "And you're probably right. I don't know how much it hurts you; I don't understand. I've tried… so hard… to understand this, but I can't, and I'm sorry for that. I have no clue whether or not my even being around is killing you inside." Returning his hand to his side, he added, "Just the same, Aeryn, you have no idea how cruel you can be sometimes…"
This final observation seemed to hit home. He was unsure how exactly it sounded to her, but her reaction was inevitable. Realisation seemed to sweep over her and her entire demeanour and posture crumbled before him. Sickeningly, the thought occurred that she had been slowly killing them both. Her shoulders sagged, her head dropped, and she tried in vain to stop another deluge of tears. When she was unsuccessful in her attempt at control, John, no longer caring about the consequences, gathered her in his arms and pulled her close. She moved unresistingly, exhausted and no longer strong enough to fight him.
Silence descended in waves around them. Over her shoulder, John examined the recently-acquired Prowler, and the already partly-packed containers. Amongst Aeryn's myriad cargo lay the single bag he had thrown together and brought with him: a basic survival pack containing nothing but clothes, food cubes, and his notebook. She was prepared, and always had been; he was impulsive, acting purely on instinct. Now that same instinct which had told him to go with her inexplicably told him the opposite.
It had never failed him before.
He spoke again, his voice muffled by her hair, but his message was clear. "I'll let you go… I'll let you go…"
They stood there for an eternity, John unconsciously belying his own words by steadfastly refusing to release her. He only did so when she moved, almost imperceptibly. They stepped apart again, standing several inches from each other in the same stance as before. Neither made any attempt to move.
After what seemed like arns, Aeryn finally began to move away. John stopped her.
"Aeryn…" She stilled again, and waited to hear what he had to say. "Don't leave mad, and please, don't leave upset. I'd never forgive myself."
She smiled, in spite of herself. "I'm not angry. We're both upset."
This time, John smiled. "I guess so…"
In a bizarre psychological paradox, they both recalled a time very similar to this from over two cycles ago. They had not said goodbye then, either. Simultaneously, they raised their hands, and their fingers linked as they had the time before.
John suddenly felt the right to ask for a last request. Physically, he was alive, but emotionally, he would have preferred to be dead, and certainly felt like he was dying. He stepped closer, carefully, giving her time to escape should she want to, until their foreheads touched, their hands still entwined. He lifted his head to place a kiss on her brow, sensing her inner battle to either resist or move closer. When he spoke again, his question was pleading, desperate; he knew this, but no longer cared how idiotic or lovesick he sounded.
"Aeryn… just one last kiss… that's all I ask."
She had been anticipating it, but all the same, hesitated. She knew, with John, it would never be just one kiss. He was asking for everything she had to give and more. To refuse him would be to kill him… to allow him the request would be to kill herself.
"Please… I'm losing everything I have left. I just want something to remember."
She nodded, a slight movement that he very nearly missed.
Like the compatibility test they had taken, the moment came agonisingly slowly. John's arm went around her waist, his other hand still in hers, and it suddenly seemed too familiar to the vision the old woman's herbs had induced. This time, there was no dance, other than the perpetual waltz they had seemed to be trapped in for three cycles. He was caught in an emotional paradox; on the one hand, he was certain that a simple kiss might save them both, and on the other, he knew it would make things even more difficult.
Aeryn waited. When their lips finally met, there was nothing left, only him. The kiss was chaste, and neither wanted more; it seemed to last an eternity, and time ceased to exist. Aeryn's worst fear, however - that she would never be able to let go - was becoming a reality. They were everything to each other, and both were willing to sacrifice it. She knew, then, how deep it truly went.
John would love her unconditionally, no matter what she did; it would reach beyond the stars and across the universe. After everything that had happened, Aeryn knew he would never desert her even when she was completely out of reach. He loved her enough to let her go, even though he didn't - and couldn't - understand what she was going through.
It did not matter which John this was… he loved her.
She allowed him to be the one to end it, and when he did, it seemed too early. Their hands separated simultaneously, and John's arm released her. They said nothing at first, merely basked in the emotion that enveloped them.
John had ended it for his own good, knowing that if he did not, they would both do something they might regret later. It did not change anything, however; he knew he still had to let Aeryn leave. He pulled her close to him again, craving a final contact before losing her, and barely noticing when she returned the gesture.
Three cycles, in retrospect, was very little time compared to what he had imagined them having, but nevertheless, those three cycles were forever and a day. They were brought together by accident, and he would not change their time for the world… or for his world. He was grateful for everything Aeryn had given him, right up to and including this moment.
Barely above a whisper, he said: "Thank you…"
John gave her a squeeze and tried to ignore the pain coursing through him, shooting like pulse blasts from his heart. Over the lump in his throat, he managed to inject an attempt at humour.
"Now go, before I blow up your Prowler…"
He felt, rather than saw, her weak smile. With the same tactic in mind, she said: "I was trying to, remember?"
He laughed in spite of the situation. "Yeah. Sorry."
The light-hearted atmosphere soon dissipated as John released her and stepped back. She nodded. It was time.
Slowly, she turned and walked back towards the Prowler, and loaded the remainder of the containers. John simply watched her, knowing that if he helped, he would never be able to let go. She seemed to comprehend this and completed the task herself. When everything was ready, she mounted the steps, stopping at the top to look back.
The expression she directed at him, of gratitude and some regret, was almost his undoing. Without moving any closer, for fear of the action causing him to run and tear her from the steps of the small craft, he blurted out what he hoped would be the last thing she heard him say.
"I know this isn't going to change anything. I know you probably don't want to hear it from me. I know you already know, but if you remember nothing else cycles from now, at least remember this, Aeryn: I love you."
She nodded, as a single tear rolled down her cheek. "You'd never let me forget that, John." Just before she stepped into the Prowler, she considered that this would be the last thing she said to him. It seemed wrong, to leave him with those words. There was too much she wanted to say, just like him, and it would take arns to explain it all.
Eventually, she decided to simply tell the truth. "I'm sorry for the past few weekens. You have to believe that I wasn't intentionally trying to hurt you. It's just been so difficult… If I could, I'd allow myself to stay, or let you come with me… but I'm so afraid of losing you again. At least, this way, it's my choice, and the consequences fall entirely onto me." She paused, watching him as he listened. He still remained motionless. "I loved him… just as I love you. That's why I have to leave…"
John nodded as she trailed off, suddenly understanding everything. Silently, he raised his fingers to his lips, kissed them, and held them out in a final gesture of farewell. "Goodbye, Aeryn Sun."
She boarded the Prowler and closed the hatch as he vacated the area.
An arn later, as he sat in his module watching his friends depart for their homeworlds, he stayed close to Aeryn's craft until he was just within range of Moya's communication system. They had said nothing more since her departure, and now it was time for her to leave. The window was just in view and they could see each other, barely. John waved lopsidedly, and smiled when she waved back. They needed no more words, but she surprised him by saying:
"We're in the hands of fate now. We have to trust in that. Fly safe." As one final tear slid down her face, she added: "Goodbye, John Crichton."
With that, she was gone. John stared into the emptiness left by her Prowler for several microts, and the enormity of the situation only dawned when he realised that, aside from Moya in the distance, he was quite alone, in every sense of the word.
He did not cry, nor did he lay all blame on himself. Instead, he merely sat in the silence, and remembered the good times, the bad times, and everything they had been through. As long as he had his memories, he decided, Aeryn would never be gone; as long as he had her love, even if she was miles away, he would survive.
They were two sides of the same coin, attached and yet apart, equal and opposite. With this thought in mind, on a whim, he threw the small disc again. Even though it bounced off the low ceiling of his Module, the outcome was the same. Somehow, he knew, even if he threw it hundreds upon thousands of times, that outcome would never change. Fate had decided.
A coin with two sides had only one decision when put up against a higher power…
*breathes out* Okay, hands up anyone who didn't cry. You get a prize. I can honestly say there won't be any more of these for a while now the series has ended, unless I get a sudden inspiration to write something. Fear not, though. My "Farscape Horror Show" is still being written (honest!), and I have something special planned for Valentine's Day if I can finish it in time. If not, who cares if it's late, it's the thought that counts.
Anyway, you know the drill. Reviews please =)