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

Rating: PG

Summary: John has made his decision to go after Scorpius, but can he live with the outcome?

Slowly, John walked along the corridors of Moya's many tiers, thinking, speculating, trying to find a way, a solution. How did one get rid of something as profoundly evil as Scorpius? The half-breed made his flesh crawl whenever he thought of him. What he had told Aeryn on the Royal Planet had been to the point. He was scared of Scorpius, more scared than he had ever been of anything or anybody in his life. The thought of the influence that this creature had exerted over him still made his mind reel. He couldn't imagine ever giving in to something like that and yet he almost had. The chip had controlled him in such a manner that he had feared for his sanity.

His decision to go after Scorpius, to find and destroy him, had been a hard one. It meant he would have to come face to face with him again, to see him again, with the possibility of capture on the horizon. What would Scorpius do to him if he caught him again? He had the technology, didn't he? Scorpius had dug it out of his brain, nearly driving him insane in the process. So, would the half-breed kill him? Or would he make sure he suffered for the rest of his miserable life?

Shaking his head, John tried desperately to dispel those thoughts, to drive the influence Scorpius still had over him out of his mind, but he knew he couldn't. There was no way he could get rid of the neural clone; not without help. And who would help him with something like that? Zhaan hadn't been strong enough and she had been a tenth level Pa'u.

Reaching a hand out, he idly let his fingers drift over the walls of Moya's corridors as he continued walking, his mind preoccupied by what-if's and maybe's. He had walked for a long time, just trailing through the living ship, entering tiers he had never been on before, tiers he wouldn't remember having walked through afterwards. He needed a plan, needed to find a way to deal with this without losing what was left of his mind.

A cynical little smile spread over his lips as a rather prominent thought entered his consciousness. He knew he had lost it somewhere along the line. He wasn't entirely sane any more. Torture would do that to a person, he figured, but he couldn't help wondering if his father would even recognize him anymore. He most certainly wasn't who had been three cycles ago, when he had flown Farscape 1 into that damned wormhole.

The smile vanished and his expression became bland once again while he walked, one foot in front of the other, never looking where he was, never stopping. Just keep on walking, he thought to himself. Figure it out. Find a way, make a plan.

"A plan to do what, John?"

He came to a stop and closed his eyes, focusing on shutting up that voice for a moment, then listened into his mind and found the disturbance gone again. A small sigh escaped him and he continued on his trek through Moya.

Was it a good idea to go after Scorpius? Was it a good idea to drag all of them along with him? He had given them the choice to bail out. At first, he had been convinced that D'Argo, Chiana, Jool and Rygel would say no thank you and take off in Talyn, but surprisingly they had stayed. So had Aeryn and Crais, although he wasn't entirely certain where Aeryn stood in all this.

Crais had a wish for revenge as well, which made him the perfect ally right now. He had evolved, had become more than he probably had ever thought he could be, and despite himself, John was beginning to trust him. That trust was mainly based on their common goal. Crais was as interested in ridding the galaxy of Scorpius as he himself was. What it came down to with the ex-peacekeeper was revenge.

What it came down to when it came to John was more than that. He wasn't only out for revenge, he was out for pure, cold-blooded murder. He wanted to kill Scorpius and he wanted to do it slowly. Pay-back time. But in the depth of his mind, he doubted he would be able to do it when it came to it because of that damned clone in his mind.

So he continued walking and thinking, trying to come up with a fail-safe plan, knowing there was no such thing. All he wanted was to get rid of Scorpius. Then he could focus on the rest of his life and what he was going to do about it. If he could, he would try to get through to that wormhole technology in his head and maybe go back home again. He was out here on his fourth year now, with no means of letting his father or his sisters know that he was still alive. "Alas a couple of cans short of a six-pack," he mumbled and chuckled joylessly.

Did it make him insane that he knew he didn't have all his marbles anymore? Would they give him a psych-test at home and decide he was a danger to himself and others and lock him away? Now wouldn't that be a hoot? He could easily imagine that they would lock him up anyway, that he would be considered 'contaminated' and fit for studying because he had been off Earth for so long and had lived to tell the tale.

With a sigh, he came to a stop again, bracing himself against the wall with one hand, while he closed his eyes and tried to still his mind. Negativity had never been one of his trademarks, but it was slowly but surely worming its way into his behavior. Things weren't funny anymore. He found it increasingly difficult to see the bright side of life.

What did he have out here that was worth keeping? Aeryn had renounced him because his copy had died on her. Even though he was hard pressed to blame her for it, he couldn't help thinking that she was mourning him in a sense. And, as it looked at present, there was no real chance that she would come around. She spoke to him only when she had to and she never initiated anything. The few times he had tried to have a heart-to-heart with her, she had either ignored him or left.

She had chosen to stand by his side when he had first aired his idea to pursue Scorpius. She had been the first to step over and join him. But she hadn't changed her attitude toward him. She wasn't unkind, merely not interested any more. And it cut him deeper than any physical wound could.

"Why not drop this ridiculous idea, John?"

That voice again. He shook his head lightly, brushed both hands through his short-cropped hair. Not ridiculous, he thought, it was the only way. That was what this was. There was no other way out for him. He was committed to the thought and he would damned well carry it through too.

With another sigh and resignation creeping into his mind, he started walking again, but this time he had a destination. His quarters. He needed to sleep. The clone always crept up on him when he was tired and he hadn't slept much the past few nights.


Aeryn sat on her bed, polishing her gun, when she heard familiar footsteps coming down the corridor. He walked by her door without looking up, his eyes on the floor ahead of him, his whole posture that of a beaten man. For the briefest of moments she felt like calling for him, but that need was squashed immediately by this new fear she carried within her. Don't get involved, a voice cried in her mind. Don't start something. You'll only lose again.

He hadn't told her about the pain. In a sense, she was angered by it, angry at him for not telling her about the dark side of emotions. But then again, he had never really told her much about it in the first place, only that he figured feelings were necessary. She hadn't agreed with him then and she didn't want to agree with him now. One thing she knew, though. If she got involved with him, with this version of him, she would lose again. Because they were on a suicide mission and she just couldn't stand the idea of having to lose him should she survive this by some small measure of luck. Better to be the Peacekeeper again with no emotions and the willingness to die for the cause.

Thoughtfully, she returned to cleaning her weapon, her eyes trailing over the hard steel, while she forced her mind to be silent. Go on instinct, do what you do best, she told herself.

Then she closed her eyes and let her hands sink into her lap. What was the point? Every time she saw him, she ached to hold him. She could feel his pain and she wanted to help him get over it, somehow make him understand that he could get rid of the clone, could get his mind back. But those feelings were oh-so-dangerous for her fragile emotional state and she could not risk opening up again. Not yet.

"You have frelled up my life, human," she muttered under her breath, sighed deeply and returned to the task at hand. There was no way that she would allow him to worm his way back into her heart. The first time had been too painful. She couldn't stand the thought of having to go through that again.

And then her subconscious mind surprised her once again by starting to cough up memories of the good times they'd had, the laughter they had shared, the love they had made. "Frell," she whispered and stopped polishing her gun again.

The lights in the corridor dimmed, telling her that the sleep cycle was once again upon them, and she sighed. Time to get some much needed rest, she thought, put her weapon and the rag she had polished it with aside and started to undress. She hadn't eaten anything this evening, her lack of hunger somewhat surprising, but she didn't think about it, didn't care about it. It didn't matter. All that mattered was this insane suicide mission they were on, this totally inappropriate and outrageous idea that only someone like Crichton could have come up with. She couldn't help the smile that spread over her lips. He might have changed over the cycles he had been among them, but he sure hadn't become any less crazy.


Three solar days later

The commerce planet was teeming with activity, giving the crew of Moya ample opportunity to hide among a multitude of different races while getting what they needed to sustain a certain level of life on the ship. Aeryn and D'Argo had gone on a supply run and Chiana and John had come along for the ride.

Chiana trailed after John, under specific instructions from D'Argo to keep an eye on the human. She usually didn't do as she was told, but felt the need to keep an eye on him for her own reasons. She would never forget what he had done for her and she wanted to give him something in return, but the only thing she knew how to give was the one thing he didn't want. Not even now.

He stopped briefly and she thought he was actually showing an interest in one of the displays, but he just stood there, staring ahead of himself for a microt, before he picked up his pace again, walking slowly through the marketplace, and seemingly not caring what went on around him.

Chiana couldn't help thinking that he was like a ghost these days. Aeryn had shown him clearly enough that she had no interest in him, that whatever had happened between her and the other John had nothing to do with him. That was the one thing the Nebari could not get through her head. Aeryn had a second chance to do things right, but she refused to see the facts for what they were; that the two John's had been one and the same person, that the remaining John was the same man as the one who had died on her.

She hurried up and fell in step beside him, looking up at him all the while. Only seldom had she felt such sadness emanating from another being and it broke her heart to see him like this. This was not the John she had come to love. Without hesitation and very little afterthought, she slipped a hand into his and smiled vaguely when his fingers closed around hers, squeezing her hand lightly. He said nothing, just continued walking while holding onto her hand. And all Chiana could do was walk with him and be quite. He had more than once ignored her when she tried to talk to him and at first she had felt hurt by his rejection. But she had since realized that he was very emotional at the moment and that he seemed to feel that talking might compromise him in some way, so she left him to it and merely settled for giving him as much physical comfort as he would accept.

"Hey, Crichton," she said and pulled him to a stop. "This place is said to have a great black market. Wanna take a look around? We might find something for the others too," she suggested.

He glanced around, then shrugged somewhat indifferently. "Sure. It's not like we have anything better to do," he replied and surprisingly enough allowed her to pull him with her down a side alley and away from the others.

Chiana dragged him along, wanting to quickly cover the distance to the black market, which was more obscure than the one they had just been in. She also wanted to spend some time alone with him without having the watchful eyes of the Luxan on them all the time. D'Argo seemed to be the one worrying the most about John's state of mind and didn't approve of what he called her fahrbot ideas of fun. Chiana felt that John just needed to loosen up a little to get back to himself again.

The black market was as active as the other one, but it was underground and the people buying and selling were shady by comparison. Chiana was thrilled by the merchandise, her eyes roaming the stands for Bendigan fire silk. She could never get enough of that fabric, of the way it felt when it touched her skin. Although she knew she didn't have the currency to buy it, she at least wanted to touch it.

All the while, she held onto John's hand, dragging him along with her, and it was with no small amount of surprise that she suddenly realized how unlike him this was. He usually didn't let her drag him off to anywhere without at least asking her questions. So far, though, he had been silent.

Turning around, she stopped and looked up at him, cocking her head to the right. "Crichton, are you all right?"

He blinked and focused on her for a microt, then glanced around him. "Yeah," he replied and inhaled shakily. "What do you want to get down here?"

He looked away, not meeting her eyes, and despite the bad lighting, she thought she saw tears in his eyes. Chiana glanced around briefly, found a quiet corner and pulled him with her. The remains of an old pillar could serve as a bench and she urged him to sit down on it, which he did without asking her why, another worrying sign.

"What is it, Chi?" he asked after a microt and looked up at her standing in front of him.

"You need to talk, Crichton," she said and sat down next to him as close as she could get. "You haven't been yourself ever since Aeryn and the others came back. And you haven't talked to anyone about it. I think you need to."

He sat there for a moment, staring ahead of himself, then he blinked and swallowed hard. "There's nothing to talk about, Chi. Things are the way they are. There's nothing to be done about it."

"But that's where you're wrong," Chiana tried to convince him. "Don't you see? Aeryn's hurting, sure, and she's trying to be all cold and distant. But she doesn't pull it off. I've seen her looking at you. She still wants you. She just doesn't want to acknowledge it yet."

John glanced at her for a few heartbeats, then again let his eyes roam over the black market. "He said to give her time," he mumbled.

"Who did?" Chiana asked and slipped an arm around his back under his coat.

"The other one," he replied and briefly closed his eyes.

"Yeah, that's right. Give her time. Don't give up on her. She'll come around. I know she will. And you know how I know?" She smiled, leaning in closer. "Because if she's got any sense at all, she won't let you get away."

That drew a reluctant smile from him. "You always know how to come on to guys, huh, Pip?" he asked her, leaned in and kissed her cheek. "Thanks, Pip. I needed this."

He rose again, dragging Chiana up with him, then wrapped an arm around her shoulders and nodded toward the marketplace. "So, what exactly did you want to find down here?"

"Bendigan fire silk," she replied, grinning. "Come on. I'll show you. It's really drad." Taking his hand, she dragged him along with her again. He might not be over this yet, but at least he was showing an interest in his surroundings again.

Chiana spotted the fabric among many others like it and came to a stop with a chuckle. "See? I told you they would have it here," she said and grabbed a handful of the flimsy fabric. Raising it up, she brushed it against his cheek. "Nice, huh?" she asked him and grinned at the somewhat stunned expression on his face.

"Damn, that's soft," he exclaimed and gingerly touched the fabric, almost seeming afraid to tear it.

It looked like fire-red cobwebs, translucent and softer than silk. And it had a heady and intoxicating smell, too. Chiana chuckled softly. "Yeah, that's why I like it. It's tougher than metal and thinner than pu'ra-silk. That green stuff over there," she said and waved at a roll of emerald fabric. "This will keep you warm in a blizzard and it's virtually indestructible."

"I figure it's expensive then, huh?" he asked and gave her a scrutinizing look.

"Well ... yeah, kinda," she replied somewhat reluctantly. "You gotta barter about it, bring the price down. But it's still pretty expensive."

John frowned briefly, then focused on the owner of the stand. "How much is this?" he asked.

"A hundred per henta," the owner replied, looking a little indifferent. He appeared to be one of those subspecies of Sebaceans that they seemed to encounter everywhere in the Uncharted Territories.

John dug into his pocket and produced three Kelvic crystals. "Will these do for sixty hentas?" he asked, handing them over.

The shop keeper eyed the stones for a moment, then looked up to meet John's gaze, his own full of surprise. "This will buy you a hundred," he replied.

"Good. Give the girl a hundred hentas of Bendigan fire silk," John said.

Chiana was rarely speechless, but she found it impossible to come up with anything to say to that as the shopkeeper used a specialized tool to cut the fire silk, wrapped it up and handed it to her. She took the package with slightly trembling hands and stared at it for a few microts before she was able to respond at all. Then she raised her eyes to meet Crichton's, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. "Thank you," she whispered with tears in her eyes. Nobody had ever done something like this for her. To own fire silk was a dream come true for her. To have this much was incomprehensible. "Where did you get those crystals from?"

"Rygel," John replied, a little surprised by her reaction. He knew she had talked about the silk before, but he had never figured she would respond this way to getting it. And he didn't really think that it was that expensive. "He's got a whole stash of them and he must have dropped them at some point. Since he hasn't asked about them, I figured he wouldn't miss them," he added with a weak smile.

"This is the dradest," Chiana exclaimed and hugged the package to her chest. "Do you know how long I've wanted this?"

"I figure it's been a while, considering that you've been talking about it ever since I met you," John replied and again wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Besides, I figured it was time someone spoiled you a little," he added and pulled her with him. "Let's get out of here. This place is giving me the creeps."


They emerged at another exit of the black market and John was instantly disoriented. He had no idea what part of town they were in. Glancing around, he tried to figure out which way to go, then decided to leave that up to Chiana. She had an uncanny ability to find her way back from where ever she was. "Lead the way, grey girl," he told her and gave her a smile he hoped had the right effect. He did feel better after her little pep-talk, actually found himself hoping for a happy ending, but he didn't quite believe it yet.

Chiana took his hand and started pulling him along, moving much faster than they needed to. "Come on, old man," she urged him with a grin.

Whether it was a sound or something in his subconscious mind, John suddenly stopped, dragging Chiana to a halt as well. The area they were in was rather deserted, but it appeared to be the main entrance for the black market underneath. And John had the distinct impression that they were about to get themselves into a shitload of trouble. Using his hold on Chiana, he pulled her back, pushing her behind him.

"What?" Chiana asked, glancing around anxiously.

"Don't know. There's something wrong," John replied, scanning the area. The area looked like a scene taken out of ancient Greece. There were pillars and archways and walls blocking his view, a virtual maze of passageways and openings, but he still couldn't shake the feeling that trouble was heading their way.

And only microts later, it turned out that his assumption was true. No more than fifty feet ahead of them, a group of people rounded the corner, all of them quite obviously Peacekeepers. And they came to an immediate stop when they spotted John and Chiana.

To John it felt as if time slowed down to a near crawl. Everything moved incredibly slow as he met a pair of eyes he had hoped he would never see again. Swallowing hard, he ripped his pulse pistol from its holster and aimed at the individual in question, his heart thudding away in his throat, his grip on Chiana's arm painfully tight. "Back up, Chi," he hissed at her, never taking his eyes off the abomination that had caused him so many sleepless nights and so much pain.

"Are you fahrbot? We can't outrun Peacekeepers," she hissed back, terror in her voice.

"John! What an unexpected surprise," Scorpius said and smiled a benevolently.

John couldn't get his mind around to why they had bumped into Scorpius here. Of all places, why here? Pushing Chiana back a step, he kept his pulse pistol aimed at Scorpius, his resolve to shoot the half-breed on sight crumbling slowly. He wanted to shoot, wanted to blow Scorpius to bits, but he couldn't pull the trigger. No matter how he tried to force himself, he just couldn't fire. And it was then that he realized that the clone in his brain was influencing him just enough to prevent him from shooting. His hand started shaking with the effort it was to hold the pulse pistol where it was and Scorpius grinned with satisfaction.

"You can't kill me, John. Just a little safeguard that my neural clone is upholding," Scorpius called and started forward.

"Shoot him, Crichton," Chiana hissed, her tone disclosing how confused she was by this odd standoff.

"Can't," he ground out, all his concentration solely on keeping the pulse pistol aimed at the group. "He won't let me." He couldn't believe this was happening. They were going to get caught and Scorpius would probably frell with his mind some more.

Just when he was about to give up, Chiana's hand closed around his hand, her index finger slipping over his. "Well, I can," she told him quietly and pulled the trigger for him. The shot went astray, not hitting its intended target, but it was enough to break up the group and send them scurrying for cover, Scorpius included. He was quite aware that he had no control over Chiana.

John relinquished his gun to her and left it to her to fire randomly at the Peacekeepers, who only briefly returned fire until Scorpius was heard roaring at them to stop. But not in time. One bolt of pure energy raced straight toward John and would have hit him right in the chest if it hadn't been for Chiana's fast reflexes. She ripped the package of fire silk up in front of his chest and it took the bolt, stopping it before it could hurt him.

Stunned, he was briefly unable to move, but Chiana grabbed his arm and pulled him with her down a side alley. They picked up speed, weaving in and out of openings, archways and other passageways and what seemed like only microts later they burst out into the main market place, out of breath and scared to death.

"Let's find the others," Chiana said, grabbed a hold of his arm and hauled him along with her in search of D'Argo and Aeryn. She tapped her com-link on the way. "D'Argo, Aeryn, where are you?" she asked.

"At the pod. Where are you? We've been waiting for you," Aeryn's voice came back. She sounded angry.

John glanced at Chiana and she made a face. "We're on our way. Get ready to take off. And tell Moya and Pilot to look out for a command carrier. Scorpius is here," she said and changed course toward where the pod was waiting.


Aboard Moya

John was fidgety to the extreme until Moya had left the commerce planet and more specifically the system behind. And even then, his hands were shaking and his whole demeanor told everybody that things had very nearly gone wrong down there.

"Scorpius?" Aeryn asked, her voice harsh. "How the frell could Scorpius be on that planet?" She made a sweeping gesture in the general direction they had left behind, her eyes sparking with anger. "Are you sure you didn't imagine it?"

John sat on one of the benches in the central chamber, trying to keep his hands still with little luck, while staring intently ahead of himself.

"He didn't imagine it," Chiana jumped to his defense. "I saw him, too. One of his fahrbot soldiers nearly killed John," she added, holding up the damaged package of fire silk. The silk itself was unharmed by the shot.

"Why didn't you shoot him, then?" Aeryn asked, her gaze going from Chiana to John and back again. "Either of you?"

"I'm not a very good shot," Chiana said with a sideways glance at John.

"Then why didn't you shoot him?" Aeryn asked, turning her attention fully to John, who merely glanced up at her and remained silent. "Isn't that what you want to do? Kill him?" she sputtered and again received no reply. "Ah, frell it all into the nearest sun," she snapped, swirled around and stalked out of there.