Rating: PG-13

Timeline: This story starts immediately after Dog With Two Bones.

Potential Spoilers: Spoilers for all Seasons up until the end of Season 3. No spoilers for Season 4. This story does not take Season 4 into consideration at all.

Acknowledgements: I want to thank Eva, my beta, for her hard work and dedication to this story. Without her, this story would never have been finished.

Somewhere in the UTs

Aeryn Sun had plotted her course, her insides in an uproar at what she was doing, but she was convinced that she had to leave to set things straight in her own mind. She couldn't do that while John was around. She couldn't focus on working through the grief over losing him when he was still there. And until she had done that, she couldn't allow herself to think that it might happen again. And she believed it would. After having blown up a Command Carrier, he would have the whole frelling Peacekeeper outfit breathing down his neck, seeking revenge. He had humiliated them and she knew the Peacekeepers. They wanted to see blood. If they ever caught him again, he would pay dearly for his crimes.

Her grip on the control column loosened for a microt and she had to stop her mind from spinning. She felt like a coward for running away like this, but she saw no other option. There were too many things happening when she was with him for her to be able to think this through rationally and he was bound to try and do something 'heroic' if he thought it would impress her or protect her.

The thought of what the Peacekeepers would do to him if they found him resurfaced. They would make an example of him; a warning to others not to repeat what he had attempted to do, and she, who felt utterly incapable of thinking straight when he was near her, would not be able to protect him. Her newly found emotions would get in the way and that alone jeopardized him.

The memory of their conversation, of that frelling coin-toss, was still fresh in her mind. John had been disappointed, hurt by her rejection, and she had felt torn by the outcome. Begging him to let her go had been the only way she had been able to convince him that she needed space and time, that she needed to go, but somewhere inside she wasn't so certain that it had been the right decision. She was worried about what lay ahead of her; about the unrealized possibilities and threats; about a future so uncertain that it made her chest hurt; a future away from Moya and her crew. What was waiting for her out there? Where would she end up? Would she live to see another day? Such thoughts wandered through her mind, making her resolve to keep going forward waver. Even after three cycles away from the Peacekeepers, away from the only life she had known, she was still afraid to be alone.

The prowler's scanners constantly fed the console information about her surroundings, announcing any vessels and planets in the area, but she paid them very little attention, her mind full of things other than what was right in front of her. But something prompted her to turn her attention to the console and a frown spread over her brow.

"What the frell?" she muttered. At first she didn't know how to respond to what the instruments told her, but nevertheless she throttled back and killed the engines while she continued to stare at the readouts. The prowler continued to drift forward while she tapped the transmitter on her headset, holding her breath. "Pilot?" she called. "Do you read me?"

There was no reply, which was understandable when considering the distance she had already traveled, but it still worried her. She restarted the engines, changed course, and flew back the way she'd come, pushing her ship to give its all. It would take her more than five arns to get back to the place where she had left Moya, but she had to go back to find out what had happened. The readouts had been very clear and she could not deny that it raised a concern in her that she found almost impossible to subdue. She needed to make sure that John hadn't created that wormhole that her scanners insisted was the cause of the odd, rippling energy signature they had picked up; she needed to make sure that he hadn't gone and done as she had told him to and gone home. She felt like beating herself up about that comment. Of course she didn't want him to leave and go home. If he had, they would most definitely never meet again and she didn't even want to start thinking about what that meant for her. Angry with herself, she pushed those thoughts aside and focused on finding her way back to Moya's last known location.

As soon as she was within range, she opened the channel again and tried to hail the leviathan. "Pilot! Do you read me?" she called and again received no answer. None of her instruments showed any sign of the leviathan and although it could mean that Moya had long since starburst away from this part of space, Aeryn couldn't still the underlying fear that was growing in her mind. "Frell," she muttered and adjusted her course a little, her gaze shifting from the readouts to the space around her and back again.

"Aeryn? Is that you?"

"John?" she replied instantly, a little surprised to hear his voice. "Where are you?" she demanded and glanced around, well aware that she was still too far away to see anything of importance.

"In my module. Where else?" he countered.

"What the frell are you doing in your module? Where's Moya? Why isn't Pilot answering my com?" she demanded.

For far too long all that answered her was silence, but then she heard him sigh. "Hey, I'm happy to 'see' you too." He sounded a bit terse.

Aeryn frowned. "You can't see me yet. I'm nowhere in the vicinity," she said, aware that he probably hadn't meant it literally. "Where are the others?"

Again, he sighed. "A wormhole opened up and pulled Moya in. I think everybody was still on board," he replied.

"A wormhole?" she asked, knowing that it was the truth. Her instruments had caught the signature clearly. "How?"

"They do appear randomly, Aeryn," he countered sharply, but without much conviction.

"Frell that! Don't you think that this is a little bit too convenient? We have to find them," Aeryn snapped. "Stay where you are. I'll be right there."

"Sure. It's not like I'm going anywhere," he grumbled in response.


Within an arn, Aeryn finally reached the destination and spotted the module immediately. She guided the prowler up along side it and throttled back, cutting the drift at the same time.

"Follow me," she said. They had to get to a spaceport where they could ditch the module and find a way of tracking the missing leviathan. She had no idea how to do that, but she assumed that John might know.

"I can't," John replied flatly.

She froze in mid-motion, confused by his refusal to comply. It was altogether possible that he was still angry with her for leaving and if that was the case, she was going to let him have it with both barrels B figuratively speaking. "Now is not the time to be offended, John," she admonished him.

"I'm not," he countered a tad aggressively. "I am, however, almost out of fuel. Why do you think I'm still here?"

Aeryn sneered silently and leaned back in her seat. Why was there always something wrong? She would have to come up with a plan since it appeared that he didn't have the faintest clue what to do about his current situation. "What the frell were you doing outside Moya without any fuel?" she demanded and glanced across at the module.

He didn't reply.

"All right," she finally said and turned her attention to the readouts of their immediate surroundings. "There's a planet with a breathable atmosphere in this sector about a hundred metras from here. Do you think you can make that?" she asked. "I assume you don't have a suit in your module?"

"Nope, no suit," he replied. "If you will recall, I did complete a spacewalk without a suit once, but I don't think I want to repeat that experience. It holds about as much attraction as another round in the Aurora Chair." He hesitated for a microt, then let out a whistle. "Oh yeah, that's right. You weren't there to witness the event, were you? You were out hiking with What's-his-face."

She rolled her eyes in response and wondered if there was any time in his life, any situation, where he wouldn't try to make jokes or be sarcastic. "I'm not asking you to repeat it," she countered, bluntly ignoring the last part of what he had said. "What I am asking is if you have enough fuel to cover the distance."

"I think I can make it ... barely," he replied. "Maybe if I got out and pushed ..."

"And how do you suggest you do that without a suit?" she asked, not at all understanding his need to joke about the situation.

He was silent for a microt, but then she heard him chuckle. "Well, maybe you could get out and push? How about that?"

"Are you frelling insane?" she asked, her tone full of disbelief.

"I'm kidding," he countered. "Lighten up, Aeryn. This isn't the end of the world."

"That depends on what world you're referring to," she said and sighed with exasperation. "Could we focus on getting there? You're not gaining fuel by frelling around."

"All right already," he grumbled and fell quite for a microt. "Aeryn?"

She paused in her preparations and looked over at the module. "What?"

"Thanks for coming back."

Aeryn froze. Every frelling time she heard his voice, every time he said something like that to her, she felt herself slip. How easy it would be to just give in to that tug and slip back into the role she had started to feel so comfortable with on Talyn; Crichton's mate. She almost laughed out loud at the thought, but it would have been a bitter laugh, one devoid of joy. Easy it would be, but also painful; so much more painful than she even dared to think about, because she was certain that she would lose him again.

It was a struggle, but she managed to force herself to calm down, to clear her mind of any thoughts that might bring about a downfall. She wanted nothing more than to tell him that he would be on his own once they landed, but she knew that wasn't an option. They both had a stake in Moya and their friends onboard and they needed to find out what had happened. Then, when they had found Moya and everything was okay, they could go their separate ways again. She knew she would have to fight him over that again, but she would do it. It was necessary for her own peace of mind and for his continued existence. "Let's just get you safely planet-bound," she replied and changed course toward the planet she had chosen.


John was conservative about his power, giving the module only small nudges forward and letting the drift handle the rest, but that still didn't mean he could make it as far as that planet. It wasn't just a question of covering the distance; there was the atmospheric entry to take into consideration as well. That would kill what little he had left of fuel and he wasn't even so sure that he could bring the module down in one piece.

But despite this present dilemma, all he could think of was that Aeryn had come back. Granted, she had probably come back because of Moya and the others and less because of him, but she had come back and that was all that mattered to him right now. He knew she wasn't done questioning him about the hows and whys, but he would gladly answer all her questions if it only meant that she would stick around.

After what seemed like forever, their trajectory brought them closer to the world in question and he briefly checked the fuel gauge. "Aeryn," he said.

"What?" Her reply came as abruptly as if she had been waiting for him to say something.

"I'm running awfully low here. I'm going to lose what I have left on entry. Is this a water world?" he asked, glancing at the world ahead of them. There was fairly little blue to be seen and that instantly killed his hope of bringing the module down on a body of water.

"No, not really," Aeryn replied, confirming his suspicion. "Maybe you should remain in orbit until I can get some fuel for you," she suggested.

"Not a good idea. It's gonna take fuel to stay in orbit and I'm flying on fumes as it is," he replied and gingerly knocked on the glass covering the fuel gauge to make sure the needle wasn't stuck. With a sigh, he saw only one option. "I'm gonna have to glide in. I sure hope the gravitational pull of this world isn't higher than anywhere else."

"It's not," Aeryn replied. "What do you mean, you'll 'glide' in. That pod of your isn't very aerodynamic."

John almost grinned. "Look who learned a new word," he teased and heard her annoyed snort very clearly. "I can land this thing. I know I can," he added. "All I gotta do is be careful."

Again, he heard her snort. "Well, in that case, it was nice knowing you, John," she said sarcastically. "Just land the frelling thing in one piece."

"Don't worry, Officer Sun. I'll put her down nice and easy," he promised.

What he hadn't counted on when they entered the atmosphere of the planet was bad weather. And boy was it bad. He had all the trouble he could handle just holding onto the control column and halfway down, with rain pelting the hull and strong winds tossing him left and right, the engine suddenly decided it didn't want to play ball any more and just quit on him. "Aw no, not now," he grumbled through clenched teeth and focused on keeping the nose up and the forward motion as steady as possible.

Fortunately, Aeryn had taken them in on a trajectory that would bring them down over what appeared to be a desert. There were no mountains in sight and no trees to bring him to an abrupt stop. One by one, the instruments in the module gave up and he found himself cursing loudly when the landing gear didn't respond. He tried the manual release, but still nothing happened. The weather on this world, which was oddly in contrast to the desert below him, had obviously short-circuited everything onboard.

He fought the stubborn control column while mentally preparing himself for a bumpy landing. "So much for nice and easy," he hissed and set the module down.

Considering the forward momentum when he hit the ground, he was surprised at two things. First of all, the module came to a skittering halt not too far from the impact site and secondly, he wasn't torn to bits when it did hit the ground.

For a long moment he sat there, fingers wrapped around the control column, shoulders pulled up, his whole body tense. It took some convincing to pry his fingers away from the column, but he eventually managed and drew a deep breath and settled back. "Wow, what a ride," he said.


He thought he could hear a certain amount of anxiety in Aeryn's voice, but he wasn't sure. Flexing his jaw, he took a second to regain his composure and then glanced out of the canopy and saw the prowler settling down next to the module. "I'm okay. No harm done," he assured her. Yeah, sure, everything was just dandy, wasn't it? He had set the module down in one piece without getting himself killed. Now, if he could just stop shivering like a leaf in the wind, he might actually be able to move without getting a cramp. "Is the air breathable?"

"Would I have set us down here if it wasn't?" The reply came instantly and he couldn't help smiling a little. 'Butch and Sundance ride again', he thought and briefly squeezed his eyes shut. Hell, this hurt worse than a whiplash. "It's never easy," he muttered to himself and carefully shook his head, loosening tense muscles in the process. "Why is it never easy?"

'Don't go there,' he thought. There would be plenty of time for that later when she had left again. And there was no doubt in his mind that she would try.

He popped the canopy open, rose up and tried to survey the damage done by the rough landing. The sight that met him was pretty disheartening. "Oh boy," he muttered and swung his legs over the lip of the cockpit and dropped down onto the gravelly ground for a better look. From what he could see, the belly of the module was pretty much torn up and it didn't look space-worthy any more.

Aeryn had left the prowler and stood there with her hands on her hips, eyeing the damage thoughtfully, her hair already dripping from the warm rain pelting the ground. "That won't fly again ... ever," she claimed.

"Yeah, it will. I just need to repair it," he replied, confident that he could.

Aeryn gave him a sideways glance. "With what?"

He stopped short and glanced around him. There was nothing but gravel desert as far as the eye could see. There was no indication of anything other than the low, purple grasses alive in this sector and it struck him that she was right. He couldn't repair it here. "All we have to do is find some fuel and I'll fly it to the next world with a spaceport. I'll find some parts that will fit," he said, not willing to give up on his little project yet.

Aeryn made a sweeping gesture with both arms, exasperation in her eyes. "There is no fuel on this rock," she said. "It is populated, but not by Sebaceans or anything nearly intelligent enough to deal with something as complex as fuel."

John turned to face her, folded his arms over his chest and pursed his lips in contemplation. "So ... what do we do?"

Her expression was dispassionate, a total lack of commitment in her eyes and he knew what came next. She had never liked his module because she thought it was a piece of junk that belonged on a scrap heap. Granted, compared to her prowler it wasn't much to brag about. It was poorly insulated, had no weapons and lacked the ability for high velocity.

"We leave it and go on in my prowler," she replied. Yup, she wanted to get rid of it.

"I can't do that!" he said and turned back to face his module. His denial was instinctive. How could he leave behind the last thing that connected him to his home? No, there had to be another way. Besides, if he ever wanted to navigate wormholes, he needed the module. He didn't have the specs and he wouldn't be able to rebuild it from memory.

"Well, what do you suggest then? My prowler is too small to tow it and we have no charts over this sector. If we leave here, we won't be able to find our way back," Aeryn snapped.

With his gaze locked on the module, John struggled for a moment to find a reasonable explanation. With no way of towing the module and no way of refueling it, there was little he could do. But he needed it and there was his explanation for why they couldn't leave it behind. "If we want to go after Moya, Aeryn, I have to build that ... device that creates the wormholes. And I need my module to navigate a wormhole."

"We'll just use the prowler instead," Aeryn disagreed, ever practical.

John immediately shook his head. "Not gonna happen, snookums," he said. "That's why Scorpy's people turned to goo. The shape of the vessel is essential. It has to be rounded, streamlined. Any edges or pointy noses and the device won't work and whatever is inside gets liquefied. Makes for a real short trip, if you know what I mean."

Aeryn's expression was one of slight apprehension. "Snookums?" she asked, but then pursed her lips and gave the module another look. "Well ... that thing's gone," she stated. "Which leaves us with only one other option. We have to find Furlow."

"Furlow?" Confused, John glanced at his module and then back at Aeryn, totally missing the connection here. "How do you figure Furlow could do us any good in this case?" he asked with a frown. "Isn't she a little far away to go for parts?"

Aeryn smirked. "We're not going there for parts," she said. "She has the specs for your module. She copied them when we were there the first time. When you ...," she tried, but hesitated, her expression tensing a little. "I mean, when he ran into her again, she had an exact copy of the module. That ancient, Jack, confronted him on Talyn about it. He thought you ... he ... well, that John had given away the specs for it. Instead it turned out that Furlow was the one who built it. So, we find her, get the specs from her one way or another, and build a new module. She must have used local parts to build it, which is probably what she has based the specs on."

John stared at her while righteous anger rose in him like stagnant water rising from an old well and it left a bad taste in his mouth. "She copied my module?" he asked, his tone full of disbelief. Aeryn nodded in response and gave a brief shrug. Obviously, she didn't care about that part. "What the hell ..." he tried, but trailed off again. Why was he so surprised about this? Furlow was definitely the type. "That bitch!" he then snapped and kicked the ground hard enough to spray gavel onto the module. "Who the hell gave her permission to copy my damned module?"

With her arms crossed over her chest, Aeryn watched him with a slight frown furrowing her brow. "You did," she claimed. "Didn't you?"

"Hell no! I gave her the tape, Aeryn. I didn't give her permission to copy my module. I did not give her permission to use my goddamn module." He gave the ground another kick, grinding his teeth together in aggravation. This universe was just full of crooks, wasn't it? There was hardly a decent soul among them.

It took him a moment and a few deep breaths to calm down again, to think things through, and when he finally turned back to face her, he was determined to do things the right way. "Okay, fine. Let's say that we leave the module here. What if we don't find Furlow?"

"Then you build a different craft," she replied. There was no doubt in her voice and it stirred something in him. She had faith that he could build a new module from scratch and that alone made him want to prove to her that he could.

"Well ... with help, maybe. But ... I know this module can navigate wormholes, Aeryn. I know from experience. I don't have that experience in a craft I haven't tested before. And I'm not entirely sure my theory is correct in the first place," he tried.

"Then we find Furlow and wring the specs out of her. I'd be happy to question her for you," she replied, unwavering. "But that one," she added, nodding toward the module, "is not going anywhere any more. We could try to find our way back here, but I think it would be easier to find Furlow first."

John arched an eyebrow at her. She could be so bossy sometimes. "We are not going to interrogate anyone about anything, Aeryn. I don't care what she did. If we find her, we'll ask her to hand over the specs, at gunpoint if necessary, and that's it. But there will be no hurting and no killing. Capice?" She rolled her eyes, but said nothing. John returned his attention to the module and couldn't help feeling a little out of bounds. This didn't feel right, but what else could they do?

"John," Aeryn interrupted his train of thought. He glanced over at her with a slight frown creasing his brow. "We should go. The others may need our help," she added.

He stared at her for a moment, and then sighed heavily. "Okay," he finally consented and grabbed the few things he still had in the module before closing the canopy again. He gave the module one last lingering look and then followed Aeryn over to the prowler.

'There is one good thing about all this', he thought as he settled down behind Aeryn. She couldn't run away from him right now. Closing his eyes for a moment, he leaned back and tried to relax a little. He figured he had been very lucky that she had bothered to check out the wormhole signature instead of just moving on. If she had decided to ignore it, he would have been in big trouble.

With a light sigh, he tore his gaze and thoughts away from the last remaining reminder he had of home and turned his attention forward, focusing on the back of her head. Her hair, thick and heavy as always, had lost some of its shine. He barely prevented himself from reaching out for it and instead shoved his hands under his thighs. If he had to sit on them to stanch the urge to touch her, so be it. "So, where to, oh fearless leader?" he asked after a moment.

"The next industrial world we can find," Aeryn replied as the prowler rose into the air and shot out of the atmosphere at high velocity.