Rating: PG-13

Rating: PG

Dedication: Written for A Damned Scientist as a Secret Santa gift.

Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

With one hand pressed against his stomach, John rolled over on his side and groaned. "Man, I'm never eating anything I don't know again," he muttered under his breath, then snorted despite of how he felt. "Which leaves me with next to nothing," he added and closed his eyes. Eating things out here in the Uncharted Territories had turned out to be more miss than hit for him lately and he was starting to get a little tired of having an upset stomach all the time. Lying on his side did him no good, so he rolled back onto his back and closed his eyes.

"Why are you lying around, you useless creature?"

The last thing he wanted to deal with right now was Rygel and his complete lack of compassion for others in need. "Go away, Sparky," he warned, hoping against hope that his annoyance translated into his tone of voice.

"You have to get up, walk it off," the Hynerian royal suggested haughtily. "I know that whenever I have an upset stomach," he went on and chuckled, "which isn't often, mind you – a good swim is always preferable to lying around and moaning about how sick I am."

John draped an arm over his face. "Sparky, go away," he tried again. "I'm not in the mood for your ..." He stopped, pulled his arm away from his face, pushed himself up on his elbows and gave the Hynerian a dark look. "You? You've been sitting on that damned throne sled ever since I arrived here. Do you even have legs under there? And do you even know how to use them?"

Rygel huffed. "How insolent of you," he said and stabbed out at John with that scepter of his, barely missing his arm. "I will have you know that I am quite capable of walking. It is just beneath me to do so."

John rolled his eyes and instantly wished he hadn't. That was the big deal with nausea, wasn't it? You felt worse when you moved anything. He flopped back on the bed. "Just ... leave me alone, Sparky. I feel like crap."

"And you look like dren too," Rygel confirmed. "Have you forgotten your promise?"

"I haven't promised you anything, your Highness. Now take a hike. Let me suffer in peace," John shot back, decidedly irritated now.

To his immediate surprise, Rygel complied. The whirr of his throne sled disappeared from audio range moments later and along with that Rygel's muttered complaints. It was only at that point that John remembered that he had, actually, promised Rygel something. "Aw crap," he muttered and draped an arm over his face again. He had promised to take Rygel down to the commerce planet for whatever the little Hynerian needed. Aeryn had refused to take Rygel along on their first trip because of his behavior. And, quite honestly, John always had felt that Aeryn didn't like Rygel very much; or at all, as it were.

With an effort he raised his head and squinted at the opposite wall, gaging how upset his stomach might be if he got up and did the supply run. He drew in a deep breath, testing the waters. Yeah, he was queasy, and his stomach was generally upset right now, but that didn't mean he couldn't walk it off, right? Assuming that he could get away with it, he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, planting his feet firmly on the floor. His stomach rewarded him with a slow roll that made him grimace. But the sensation settled fairly quickly again. "I can do this," he encouraged himself, got up and took one step forward. The room around him tilted sharply to the left which had him dashing for the waste receptacle immediately.

Okay, so getting up and moving around was not on the agenda. With cold sweat bathing his brow, he sat back on his heels and folded his lips against his teeth while trying to judge if he'd managed to purge whatever was upsetting his insides and realized that he needed someone to cover this promise he'd made.

"Are you ill?"

Aeryn's voice made him glance back at the door over one shoulder. "Kinda," he agreed and got shakily to his feet again. He pursed his lips against another wave of nausea, then swallowed hard to keep whatever may remain at bay.

She looked like she couldn't really settle on a response to that. "What was it this time?" she asked and took a step closer.

"Don't know. Could have been a number of things. I tried just about everything they had on the menu," he countered and turned around to face her.

She eyed him with slight concern before placing a decidedly cool hand on his brow. "You're burning up," she stated, the concern now lacing her words as well.

"Nah. If I was, I'd be spouting dren by now," he said and knew he was giving her ammo for an attack.

This made her smirk. "Like you don't do that all the time," she said. "How will I ever know the difference?"

Despite how he felt, he couldn't stop a grin. "Oh, ha-ha. You made a funny, Aeryn. You must be so proud of yourself."

"Frell you," she countered good-naturedly. "Get your eema back to bed, you drannit. I do not want to have to clean up after you."

"Which leaves me with a dilemma," he said and headed back to the bed, where he sank down on the edge with a tired sigh. "I promised Rygel I would take him on a supply run. Everybody else got what they needed, except him."

"He has more than he needs most of the time," Aeryn reminded him.

"I know, but come on. Heaven knows when we'll run across another commerce planet," John tried, hoping against hope that she wouldn't make him beg for it.

The look in her eyes told him clearly that she knew where this was heading. "Well, he shouldn't have made such a fuss earlier then. It's his own fault. Besides, it doesn't hurt to pull him down a peg or two. He's too haughty as it is."

"No argument there, babe, but ... come on. Have a heart?" he pushed. "Don't make me beg," he added quietly.

Aeryn hunkered down in front of him and placed her hands on his knees. "I can't stand that frelling slug, John," she admitted.

"I know you can't, Aeryn, but ... come on ... in his own way he's kind of endearing," John pushed on. "Please?"

For a moment he thought she would continue her ice queen part, then she rolled her eyes and rose again. "Fine. I'll take him on a supply run. But you owe me. And you will pay," she said, pointing a finger at him for emphasis.

Relieved that she would cover him on this, he let himself fall back on the bed. "Thanks. Just think of it as doing me a favor, okay?"

She snorted. "Yeah, I'll be doing you a favor alright. Don't blame me if I accidentally space him, though. He'd better be on his best behavior."


She could honestly not believe that she had agreed to do this, but it was hard to deny John when he started laying it on thick, as he called it.

That expression rumbling through her mind made her frown. What the frell did that mean anyway? Laying it on thick? Earth had to be a very strange place to come up with such insane sayings. Like 'the high road'. The first time he had used that expression, she had taken it literally and had been completely unable to understand what he was talking about since there had been no high roads out of there anywhere.

"Get your eema in gear, your Eminence. We're going on a supply run," she said when she strode into the center chamber and came to a stop just inside the door.

Rygel, who had once again been in the process of stuffing his face, arched his brows at her in a display of surprise. "Crichton has offered to take me," he countered evenly.

"Crichton is sick again," she shot back. "He's not taking you anywhere. I am." To her immediate satisfaction, Rygel's brows drooped. He was not happy with that exchange. She could tell he was looking for a way out, but apparently whatever he needed was more important to him.

"Well? What are you waiting for, tralk?" he said haughtily.

Aeryn sneered and only barely refrained from kicking the throne sled as he puttered by. "Behave yourself or I'll space you halfway," she warned and followed him out into the corridor. "Frelling Hynerian," she muttered under her breath and considered all the things she was going to do to Crichton when they got back. Generally, it depended on how much Rygel annoyed her on this trip.

All the way to the pod Rygel said nothing. Once inside, he settled himself in the rear and maintained a morose silence. And, no matter how little she might like the Hynerian royal, it annoyed Aeryn a little that he wasn't spouting dren like he usually did.

"What the frell do you need to get down there anyway?" she finally asked and sent a glance back at him.

"Nothing you would appreciate," Rygel countered, his tone a curious mixture of haughty and cautious.

"What do you know about what I appreciate?" she shot back and briefly considered the sense in asking him any questions to begin with. "It's not like you've ever shown any interest in any of us."

Curiously enough, that left Rygel mum. He obviously had nothing to say to that.

Aeryn glanced back at him again. "What now?" she asked when she met his eyes. She couldn't really read the expression on his face.

"Nothing," he muttered and looked away.

"Whatever," Aeryn growled and focused on getting them to the ground in one piece.

The shopping spree, as John called it, was short. Rygel obviously knew what he wanted and where to get it. The shop was tiny and dusty and manned by a creature she didn't recognize.

On Rygel's insistence, she remained by the door, pulse rifle at the ready. Having learned from experience, she knew how easily the little slug could get in over his head because he thought everybody revered him, and that made her go along with his obvious need to pretend that she was his bodyguard.

He muttered with the shopkeeper, keeping it low enough to make it hard for her to pick up what was going on. He was good at bartering, no question there, but he always got greedy and it almost always went wrong. Aeryn was prepared for the eventuality – one of the main reasons for that she had not allowed him to do this on his own – and she expected trouble.

The shopkeeper suddenly raised its round head and chittered indignantly while waving one of its many claws in her direction. "What is she?" it demanded louder than before.

"My bodyguard. Don't mind her. She's just a stupid Sebacean willing to do anything for a handful of crendars," Rygel countered indifferently.

Aeryn felt like hammering the butt of her rifle against his head and swore silently that John owed her more than he could ever repay right now. Instead of getting into a shouting match with the Hynerian, she opted to keep her mouth shut and give him an earful when they were away from a potentially harmful situation.

The shopkeeper muttered and lowered its head again and the bartering session continued for a moment longer. Credit units changed hands and the creature deposited a box on Rygel's lap. "Take she out of here. Peacekeepers not wanted," it rasped and drew back a little into the shadowy back of the store.

"Move, brute," Rygel ordered and waved a hand at the door.

Aeryn gave him a withering stare, then pushed through the opening and let the swinging door slam back against Rygel's throne sled. "Frelling slug," she hissed the microt they were outside.

"It is a matter of keeping up appearances," Rygel countered indifferently and sped away from her.

The sneer crossing her lips was hardly becoming, but Aeryn was too angry about Rygel's behavior to care. She followed him and caught up to him at the pod. His sheer disregard for others along with the fact that he seemed incapable of apologizing for his behavior afterward made it hard for her to settle on a response that would not end in him getting shot through the head.

Still, in spite of her general annoyance she couldn't help but eye the box he had bought somewhat curiously. Rygel generally seemed to buy food or dren that nobody else had any use for when he went on these stealthy shopping trips. "What did you buy that was worth insulting me like this?" she asked and stepped aside to let him get into the pod when he nudged his throne sled forward and nearly rammed her with it.

"None of your business," Rygel countered and vanished down the corridor.

Aeryn sighed and shook her head lightly. "Nothing is frelling worth putting up with this dren," she muttered and climbed back up the ladder to follow the Hynerian. "Nothing," she insisted and closed the hatch behind her.

Rygel had stashed the box in the rear of the cockpit and was hovering close by, obstructing her potential path to it. She paid it no heed, but settled into her seat and fired up the engine. "Are you sure you got everything? We're not going back down," she said and made sure her tone was sufficiently chilly.

"You are not Crichton," Rygel countered, his tone oddly flat.

Aeryn glanced back at him, a little taken aback by that odd comment. "What the frell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means that even though I know he doesn't like me, he still tries to get along with me," Rygel said and she suddenly identified that tone as sadness. It was just not a tone she was used to hearing from Rygel.

She paused, unsure of how to respond to that. "I'm sure he likes you," she said a little hesitantly. She was actually sure that Crichton liked Rygel. He was always defending the little Dominar after all.

Rygel huffed. "Then he would be the only one."

There was definitely sadness there and it staggered Aeryn. She was unaccustomed to dealing with the heavier side of emotions unless they came from Crichton and even then she had to do fairly little to cheer him up again. She turned a little in her seat and eyed Rygel closely for a moment. "Well, if nobody likes you, it's your own fault," she stated, actually a little surprised the Hynerian wouldn't be aware of that.

Rygel regarded her solemnly for a moment. "I know," he admitted somewhat reluctantly. "I cannot help it. It is how I was raised, how I have lived for so many cycles. I am not used to ... this," he added and made a sweeping gesture with one hand.

"This?" Aeryn asked and arched both eyebrows. "That is the worst excuse in the history of the universe, Rygel. We were all raised for different lives than what we live now. And we all have to adapt."

The little Dominar sighed. "I am aware of that. I just find it very hard to adjust," he said.

"How long were you a prisoner with the Peacekeepers again?" Aeryn asked and turned a little more to better face him.

"130 cycles," Rygel countered.

"And that's not time enough for you to realize that your life is this now? Without servants? Without luxury?" she demanded, feeling her temper flare at such blatant ignorance. "You could try to be a little nicer to us. It would undoubtedly make your life easier too. And ours especially."

Rygel eyed her for a moment, taking his own sweet time to come up with an appropriate reply. Then he smiled vaguely. "You are not as stupid as most Peacekeepers," he said.

Aeryn opened her mouth to let him have it, but then stalled. In a roundabout way, this was Rygel's version of a compliment.

"Actually, you are beginning to remind me a little of that worthless Human," he added.

"I said try to be nice, Rygel," she shot back. "Nice means not calling others names. Crichton is not worthless. And Peacekeepers are not stupid. I am not a tralk or a skank, and neither is Chiana. It is rude to refer to her as a walking pair of loomas. Do you understand that? Do you see that you are insulting others left and right?"

Rygel shrank a little into his throne.

"Your choice of words in general is what makes me want to space you half the time and shoot you the other half. You can thank Crichton for that I haven't. His overbearingness is enormous when it comes to you. By Cholok, I do not understand why he bothers. You never show him any gratitude, you are rude and obnoxious and loud," she continued, the strength of her voice intensifying with every word. "We do you favors and you treat us like underlings. Why do you think I would rather have broken my leg than take you to the surface?" She stopped and drew in a deep breath, then shook her head. "I don't know why I bother. You are ungrateful and ... insignificant."

That said, she turned back to the controls and got them off the ground. The microt the pod broke the bonosphere of the planet, Rygel muttered something she couldn't hear.

"What?" she demanded, certain it was another insult.

"I said I am sorry," Rygel repeated. "Is that what you want to hear?"

"No, you probakto," she snapped. "I don't want a frelling apology. I want you to change the way you talk to us. That's really not that much to ask."

For a moment the Hynerian remained silent. Then he huffed. "No, I suppose it is not," he finally agreed. "Aeryn," he added.

She glanced back at him. "What?"

"I shall try," he amended.

Aeryn frowned and returned her attention to the front. 'Well, I'll be frelled,' she thought. 'Crichton's approach seems to work. You can actually talk sense into others.'


John was convinced that the trip to the commerce planet had been an utter disaster. An hour of sleep had left him feeling better and he was a little anxious about it when Pilot announced that the pod had returned. "This soon?" he muttered and hurried to the bay.

Despite the lingering nausea, he had to know what had happened. And he was going to give her an earful of how it might actually be a good idea to ignore Rygel rather than respond to his rude comments.

The bay doors cycled open just as the pod hatch opened. Aeryn climbed down and turned back to look up into the pod. "Give me that. I don't think that sled of yours can carry you both down," she said.

To John's immediate surprise, she sounded somewhat elated.

A heavy-looking box dropped out of the opening into her arms. "What the frell did you buy anyway? More Hynerian cream soap?"

Rygel floated down on his sled and motioned for her to give him the box back, which she did. He opened it and withdrew something from it, which he held out to her. "You should try it. It is amazing how soft your skin gets from it."

John felt the urge to scoop his jaw off the floor when Aeryn accepted the offered bar of soap and sniffed it. "It smells good," she said. "What's it made of?"

"Oils and plants," Rygel said, disclosing that he probably had no clue. "And Tekka rose."

Aeryn shifted a little and John got a glimpse of her expression, which was one of surprise. "Tekka rose? The oil from that is incredibly rare," she said.

"Not on Hyneria," Rygel countered and focused on John. "You should try it too," he added and held another wrapped bar of soap out to him.

John just stared at him, then shifted his attention back to Aeryn, then back to Rygel. "Did you guys run into Nebari again?" he asked.

The look in Aeryn's eyes made him doubt that was it. "Nebari?" she asked, slightly confused. But then the memory set in again. "No. No Nebari," she added and glanced at Rygel, who chuckled and took off in the direction of his quarters.

John stepped up to her and eyed her closely. "Are you okay?" he asked and grabbed her face with both hands. She looked fine. "I mean ... you're not feverish or something?"

Aeryn smirked. "No, John, I'm not feverish. Turns out your way of doing things sometimes works. I'm frelling surprised, to be honest."

"My way of ..." He frowned, glanced off in the direction Rygel had vanished in, then met her eyes again. "What are you talking about?"

"We talked. We've come to an understanding. I think he will be easier to be around from now on. And if he falls back into his old ways ... Moya has plenty of airlocks," she said with a smile and left him behind too.

And all John could do was stand there and stare ahead of himself. "What the hell just happened here?" he muttered, shook his head and followed them back into Moya.

The End