Title: Leave Me Here (The Gone So Far to Get Back Home Remix)
Characters: John, Aeryn, Einstein, Chiana, D'Argo, Stark
Betas: dotfic and amilyn
Summary: He needs to see her again, and not just the silent figure who walks beside him everywhere he goes.
Original Story: Gone So Far by sugargroupie
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
Don't Go Far Off, Not Even For a Day by Pablo Neruda
He's not able to sleep no matter how much as he tries to get comfortable, to rid his mind of everything weighing down on him tonight. His bunk is too stiff, his body too restless, his mind too ill at ease. John rolls out of bed and to his feet. The deck is cold on his soles.
Aeryn sits on the edge of his bunk, hands folded, legs wide, watching him with an expression that's part exasperation, part pity. Her hair is drawn back tightly away from her face, her clothes are ready for travel. She's the most stubborn, implacable woman he's ever known. Of course he loves her.
If he reaches out, he might be able to feel her. If he goes to her, kneels before her, he might convince her.
"I can't stop you from going."
She shakes her head no, agreeing with him.
The rhythm of his steps, back and forth in his quarters, soothes him with the flow of blood to his muscles and his brain. If he finds the right combination, the key words, practices them on her ghost, he might have a chance.
"You don't really want this. I know you."
"You don't." She shifts, and he can see the undulation of the alien that she is: heat-sick, impossible-speaking. "You know nothing about me except what you believe."
She stands, walks over to him. He pretends he can smell her hair, like no fragrance on Earth. "Would you rather I say that I need my space? That it's not you, it's me?" She casts her voice to catch the drawl he sometimes uses when he's tired or stressed or bored. It's better than thinking she's Jessica Rabbit, but not much.
"Goodbye, John. Go find your home." It's the same way she said the words the last time. Even her ghost won't give him another chance.
Noranti's harsh whisper changes everything.
He doesn't want to be that guy, doesn't want to be like his friend Mike who he and DK used to pal around with, the one who knocked up his girlfriend and begged and badgered her until she decided against the abortion. John can't remember her name now, it's been too many years and star systems, but he went to the wedding, and he was still there when Mike started screwing around on her, and he heard about the divorce. John can't do that to Aeryn, can't force her into a box and a life she can't stand.
But he needs to see her again, and not just the silent figure who walks beside him everywhere he goes.
He's getting better at this. It's like the day he learned to do trig, or the day he learned to integrate in his head. Dee ex divided by dee tee, go to infinity. Boom, wormhole.
Einstein's a surprise. John puts things aright in reality after reality, kind of a slider warrior he thinks, when he's not thinking about Aeryn, about home. None of the wormholes take him to the real Aeryn, none of them lead to the real Earth. John's a woman for a while on an Earth that isn't his, and all he can think is how much he wants Aeryn to be there.
He and Einstein part ways, and then John and of all people Stark start a damn revolution, eventually leaving his old buddy as the Crazyass King of the Baniks or something. John's not clear what the hell happened there. He finds Chi again right after that, and they play Bonnie and Clyde for two cycles before they run into D'Argo and Jothee's Butch and Sundance.
John's out of metaphors now. He's pretty sure Chiana is sleeping with all three of them, and she's fine with it, Jothee's fine with it, D'Argo's dealing. John's the only one who's got baggage.
They get news: ex-Peacekeepers working for hire. It's not much to go on, it's practically nothing. John takes it.
"Gotta go, Pip," he says with a kiss to her head, and she's back to being his kid sister instead of his bed partner.
Chi's got that frowny pout she adopts when she doesn't get her way. "Crichton, you're fahrbot if you think you're gonna find her again. She doesn't want to be found."
"Yeah." He shoulders the carryall, holding the few things he's taking. "But I have to keep looking."
Behind her, he sees Aeryn's ghost holding the hand of some dark-haired kid. He's met the future ghost of his first child. He's got to set this one to rest one way or another.
They argue about it twice more before they hit the planet's system, and each time Chiana walks away sooner. That's how he knows she thinks he's right.
John finds the ex-Peacekeepers.
It's funny, because his whole life is a damn joke sometimes. They used to work for Aeryn Sun a cycle back, but she cut them loose and they're ready to return the favor on an acknowledged friend of hers. He's bound and taken to the nearest Peacekeeper base.
Dee ex over dee tee, it's like snapping his fingers, if his fingers were free, and that Peacekeeper base gets sent someplace far away from where John is. He's having a bad day and hopes they wind up hanging with the Scarrans.
His captors let him go. He's lucky they don't airlock him, and he knows it.
It takes another three quarters of a cycle for him to catch wind of more ex-Peacekeepers. He's more cautious these days, wearing scars hidden and visible. He ought to let this go. Aeryn said to go home.
She didn't really think that one through.
His mouth tastes like dust on this damn planet. Too dusty, too bright. He remembers another planet with too much sunshine, and he wonders what Blue would think, if she'd advise him to quit now while he's so far behind. Her ghost has never followed him or whispered in his ear, not the way Aeryn's does, chiding him for his quest.
"This isn't going to work," says Aeryn, her face stiff in mourning for the other Crichton. "Why do I have to keep telling you?"
"You did tell me," says John. "Only I didn't listen, I heard. You said to go home, Aeryn Sun. Well, I know where that is now, and it ain't Kansas."
He takes one last look at her ghost, sees for one more time their ghost-child. The trick in finding his way out of the wormhole is to know which is the fantasy and which is real. No regrets. Her ghost nods, and points.
He sees Aeryn sitting by a wall, cleaning her weapon. His eyes fill with moisture, and as he approaches her slowly, he tells himself it's the dust because he can take one easy lie today.
She sees his shadow first, and meets his eyes. She can run. She can shoot him. She can yell. She waits like a queen, and he comes to her on his knees.
Every damn line he's practiced over the last five cycles flies right out of his head. "It's me." He places tender hands on her knees, assessing
in an instant every visible scar.
He thinks he's about to lose her again, and then she grasps his hands with trembling fingers of her own, and it's the universe divided by infinity, it's that long-awaited sight of home in her welcoming eyes.