Author's note- I own nothing but the idea. This came to me after watching rather a lot of Farscape episodes, then not being able to get to sleep.
His weight settles on the bed behind her and for a second, she stiffens, bracing herself for pain. He brushes his fingers over her upper arm, gentle, so gentle that it makes her shiver. Her hair spreads out around her like a halo, still damp from repeated washings.
"John?" she whispers and turns towards him. The bed under her is soft, and so different to what she's gotten used to- barren metal cells and painful bindings.
"I'm here, Aeryn." His fingertips stir her hair. "I'm here."
She wears one of his t-shirts. It's too big for her, swamping her slender frame. He draws his finger up her arm and feels her shudder as he passes over the livid bruises from the injections.
"That hurt?" he whispers.
She shakes her head, eyes closed. "I feel... used." A tear trickles down her cheek. He sweeps it away with his thumb. "Dirty. They made me dirty."
Everything John wants to say sticks in his throat, locked behind a ball of rage at the universe... at everyone who keeps taking the one thing he wants most away from him. He dips his head, pressing his lips to the soft spot above her elbow. "You are perfect."
She opens her eyes and looks at him. "I don't feel it."
Honesty, brutal honesty. She'd learned it the hard way, stuck in a cell. Stuck in a cell, praying to a dead god. Stripped of everything but the tiny ray of hope that he would come. And he had, and she was safe, but she didn't feel like it. Every brush of the blanket reminds her of the cruel restraints that had held her so still for so long. Every jolt of pain reminds her of the things that had been done to her, done to her on the slender hope that her captors would find some shred of useful information.
Her hand clenches around his as he moves. Panic tears the breath from her lungs, sends her pulse racing hard enough to give her a headache. "Stay."
"Always," he promises and kicks his boots off. Guilt he can't find the words to express settles into his stomach like lead. Every time he see the bruises, the scars, it feels like someone has punched him square on the chin. "I'm sorry. They did this to you because of me."
She reaches for him, trailing her fingers over his cheek, up into his hair. "I dreamed you came for me."
"I will always come for you," he promises and catches her hand, turning it to press a kiss against her palm. "Even when I'm old and grey and cantankerous, I will come for you." He leans back to meet her eyes. "If you'll have me. If you still want me."
A smile touches her lips, the first in lifetimes. "Yes, John. Even when you're old and grey and cantankerous."
Some wordless tension leaves him. He smooths the sleeve of her t-shirt back, pressing his lips to the bruise. Kissing it away, soothing them so gently that it brings tears to her eyes and leaves her clean and safe and loved.
The hateful needles and toxic solutions had no place here. They don't fit with the love and softness and compassion. He traces the sweep of her rib, feeling her breath still for a second before her hands find their way under his t-shirt, tracing soft skin and firm muscle that trembles under her touch.
"Aeryn," he breathes before his mouth touches another bruise, another scar. Anointing them with love, making her feel clean and whole and loved again.
She presses a finger to his lips, begging him for silence because words are clumsy things that have no place here. Words can be twisted, manipulated into something completely different to what they had first meant. Words could be lies, told as truth, to try to hold back the pain just a little longer. Actions are safer. Actions are love and forgiveness and reclaiming. Reclaiming each other, from the edge, from the cliff where other people have forced them.
She kisses the side of his neck, where his pulse beats so close to the surface, letting his strength fill her as his fingers skim over the still-tender wounds on her stomach. It hurts, but it's a clean kind of pain, and his fingers don't linger, moving up her body to tangle softly in her hair.
His mouth finds the last bruise, newer than the others and still tender enough to hurt when his lips touch it. She makes some small sound and he draws back, hands stilling in her hair.
Something drips on her face. She runs her hand over the cheek she knows every line, every contour of, brushing the tears away and replacing them with kisses.
He trembles as she pulls him down next to her, wrapping herself around him. Forgiveness is hard, and forgiving yourself is even harder. His sobs shake both of them. His tears wet her face, mixing with her own.
It takes moments or hours for them to stop. Both of them are raw eyed and exhausted by the outpouring. It leaves them clean and calm and spent.
She doesn't want to sleep. It's better to stay awake, to watch over him. His breath warms the side of her neck. She tears her eyes away from his face, fixing her gaze on the ceiling arching above her head.
"Thank you," she says, not sure who she's offering the words to. It doesn't matter. They have each other, and for now, they have peace.