Something, perhaps a sigh on the wind, caused him to snap out of the self-imposed immobility. The heat began to burn him too, became uncomfortable for even him. Sweat rolled down his body, coated his skin, plastered his short-cropped hair to his skull. It was time to get out of here. And yet he lingered, his eyes never leaving the still twitching form of his former nemesis.

"You're history," he whispered into the hot wind and briefly raised his face into the heat storm. "I owe you," he told this world and grinned a little at how insane it was to talk to a planet. But he felt he needed to state this debt aloud.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and let the hotness wash over him; then he bent down, picked up his t-shirt and coat, tipped his fingers to his brow in a mocking salute and turned back toward the pod. It was time to get out of here, time to leave the past behind and get on with what was left of his life.

The love of his life was waiting in that pod and she was carrying his child. Nothing else should matter now. Nothing but carving out a little happiness for himself and his loved ones. Heaven knew he had earned it.


With both hands resting on the top of the console to support herself, Aeryn stood there and stared out the windows at John, who stood in the storm and watched Scorpius die. There was such ambiguity in that scene that it made her forget her own discomfort, her own fears, for a moment.

But then the shivers reasserted themselves and she groaned, letting her head drop forward. Sweat plastered her hair to her face and neck and it was very hard for her to breathe properly. Her body responded to the intense heat inside the pod, a heat John had done everything he could to shield the pod against. And it would probably have worked too if she had been smart enough to close the hatch behind her. But her mind then had been on far more important things, although she was now hard pressed to remember what they had been.

Outside, John turned back to the pod and left his nightmares behind. She smiled halfheartedly and felt her knees give way beneath her. She crashed to the floor and only barely could keep herself upright. This was a struggle she would soon have to give up on, but she wanted to see him obtain at least one of his goals.

The heat surged through her like a rampaging fever and her vision blurred. Everything hurt and she couldn't immediately recall why she was in such much pain.


John climbed the ladder to the pod, glanced back once more and stepped inside. He slapped a flat hand against the door control and the hatch closed behind him. It took him a second to realize that the expected coolness of the pod didn't greet him. Instead it was almost as hot inside as it was outside. And that was a very worrying aspect when he considered that he was traveling with a Sebacean.

"Aeryn?" he called. His coat and t-shirt dropped out of his hand as he started toward the cockpit. "Shit," he muttered. "AERYN!" he tried again and broke into a run.

The door to the cockpit was open and the mere thought that it might be as hot in there as it was in the rest of the pod made him sweat even more. He came to a skittering halt just inside the door when he caught sight of her. She was on her hands and knees, head down, her dark hair hanging loosely down, obscuring her face.

"Aeryn," he exclaimed, closed the distance between them and dropped to his knees in front of her. He grabbed her face, lifted it up and brushed her hair away. Her face was fever-flushed and she was sweating profusely. "Aeryn, baby, why didn't you close the hatch?" he asked, then helped her to her feet. Her legs were like jell-o, couldn't hold her weight, so he scooped her up in his arms and carried her over to one of the benches in the back. He quickly strapped her in, well aware that the last thing she needed was his added body heat. After making sure she was as comfortable as she could get, he returned to the controls and cranked the ventilation up to its top notch at the same time as he cut the heaters off.

The ventilation-system started belching out icy air and all he could hope for was that he could get the pod off the is world and into space fast enough to save Aeryn's life. He glanced back at her. "Hold on, honey. I'll get you out of here," he said.

She watched him but did not attempt to speak. And that was probably the best for now.

As soon as they had lifted off the ground, John opened the comm. "D'Argo, do you read me?" he called.

"Yes, John. How did it go?" D'Argo's voice rang from the speakers. The connection was bad, which probably had a lot to do with the heat storm the pod was fighting its way through.

"We can talk about that later. Right now I need you guys to stand by. As soon as I land this bucket, I need directions to the coldest room on Moya," John said urgently. "Pilot, are you listening in?"

"Yes, Commander. Has something happened to Officer Sun?" Pilot replied instantly.

"Yes. She's got heat delirium," John countered and once again glanced back at Aeryn, who was still awake and sweating. "We need the coldest room on Moya and we need it fast," he added.

"Land in bay three. There is a ventilation room nearby there that can be cooled down considerably," Pilot replied.

"You the man, Pilot," John replied, trying desperately to lend his voice at least a small amount of cockiness, but he had the feeling he wasn't very successful. The fact was that he was scared out of his mind. If his need for revenge and fear of recapture was going to cost Aeryn her life, he would curse himself for the rest of his miserable existence. And that wouldn't last too long. Going on without her was out of the question at this point.


D'Argo and Chiana stood by when the pod landed in bay three and D'Argo guided John quickly to the ventilation room without saying a word. Whatever he had to say, it could wait until Aeryn was back on her feet or had succumbed to this deadly ailment.

John positioned her gingerly on the ready-made bed and began stripping her clothes off. D'Argo lingered for a microt, but then decided to leave them alone. Whatever John had in mind now, he could do it alone.

He stepped back out in the corridor and was met by two sets of worried eyes.

"How is she?" Chiana asked and tried to sneak a peek inside before the door closed.

"I don't know," D'Argo confessed and took up position in front of the door. "Whatever happens now is up to fate. John can deal with whatever it is on his own. They don't need you two to disturb them now," he added and gave both Chiana and Rygel a saying look.

"Maybe ... we can help?" Chiana tried.

"No," D'Argo disagreed with a light shake of the head. "And just to make sure that you don't see fit to disturb them, I will not move from here."


John quickly got Aeryn out of her clothes and stripped down to bare essentials. Then he kicked off his own boots and settled on the bed with her to keep her company and keep an eye on her condition.

He couldn't stop himself from touching her, from brushing her hair back and wiping sweat off her face. Her breathing calmed after awhile and she looked totally exhausted.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "This is all my fault. I should have made you stay behind."

She closed her eyes and grabbed his arm, giving it a hard squeeze. "Not your fault," she rasped and licked her lips. "But you did good down there," she added with a smile. "Real good."

He sighed and let his head drop. She was coherent, which meant this had been a scare and that she was on the road to recovery now. "I don't know," he said and shook his head lightly. "I just bashed someone to death with a rock. I wouldn't call that good."

Aeryn's brow furrowed in a frown. "Are you feeling sorry for him now?" she asked, her hold on his arm tightening. "Remember what he did to you, what he would have done again. Think of all the lives he would have on his conscience if he had managed to extract that wormhole information from you, John," she added and propped herself up on one elbow.

He met her eyes and tilted his head lightly to the right. "I'm not feeling sorry for him, Aeryn," he said and sighed. "I guess I'm feeling sorry for myself here. Until I came out here, I had never taken a life. And it doesn't get any easier, no matter who it is."

Aeryn closed her eyes and let herself drop back down on the pillows. "John, I know that you have lost a lot by coming out here," she said, her tone tired. "But you cannot view someone like Scorpius as a salvageable life." She cupped a hand against his cheek and smiled weakly. "I know it's hard for you to comprehend, but out here it's kill or be killed. Diplomacy will only get you so far before you have to pick up a weapon and defend yourself. You don't get a second chance. If someone hurts you, you hurt them back. If someone kills one of yours, you kill one of theirs. It's survival of the fittest and nothing else matters than doing what is necessary to stay alive."

"That's no way to live," he whispered, grabbed her wrist and kissed her palm. "You're cooler. You feeling better?"

She nodded. "Yes, I am," she said and trailed her fingers over his face. "I'd better stay in here for a while, though. Sebaceans have a tendency to relapse."

"Can we at least turn up the heat a little?" he asked and grinned. "Just kidding," he added as the smile faded again. "I felt a little crazy, watching him die. The thing that goes against my grain here is that ... I liked it. I felt empowered. I felt unbeatable. To kill what cannot die gives you a rush."

"That's why being a soldier is easy, John. If you are not raised with moral obligations other than to a greater spectrum of life that is like you, then killing someone else is no big deal," Aeryn replied. She closed her eyes and shuddered. "Frell, it's getting cold."

"Yeah, I've noticed," John replied and glanced around. "And my pants are soaked with sweat," he added and touched his clammy thigh.

"Take them off," Aeryn replied with a halfhearted smile. "No sense in you getting sick from helping me."

"Why not? You got sick from helping me," he countered, but did as she said. They ended up sitting together, naked, on the makeshift bed, cold yet content. "I'm not sure this was such a good idea," he added and glanced at her while trying not to look. Aeryn was much more comfortable with being naked than he was. She didn't appear to act any different than she did when she was fully clothed.

John tried to follow her example. "Come here," he said and reached an arm out for her. She shifted closer to him and nestled against him when he wrapped both arms around her. "How long do you think you have to stay in here until you're okay again?" he asked.

"Depends," she replied, grabbed the covers off the bedding and pulled it around them. "I'm feeling fine right now, but I'm afraid I'll have a relapse if I leave this room too soon. And the relapses can be worse than the first bout of heat delirium," she added quietly. "But you don't have to stay. Or at least go and get some dry clothes. You'll catch your death here."

John grinned. She was using more and more of his expressions and she was getting damned good at it too. "Nah," he said and rested his chin on top of her head. "I think I'll stick it out here with you. Just to show you that I can be a tough guy when I want to."

Aeryn shifted a little and yawned. "I know you can be tough, John. You don't have to prove that to me," she said. "In fact, you don't have to prove anything to me. I know what you can do by now and I'm quite happy about the way things have turned out."

He tightened his grip around her a little and kissed the top of her head. "Me too. All things considered, we seem to have gotten away with our bodies and minds more or less intact. That must be said to be quite an accomplishment, considering the odds we've been up against. Don't you think?"

"Yes, I do," Aeryn agreed and shifted a little more. "Now, would you be quite? You talk too frelling much."

She sounded tired and he didn't blame her for wanting a little peace. So he shut up and just huddled under the blankets with his arms around her. This was what his life came down to now; the quite times when he could hold her and pretend all was well in the world.