Chapter 6

John stood by the window and stared out at the city while chewing on his lower lip. There was one sun up there and it was shining brightly from a less than blue sky. This world could be Earth, but he knew he was only distracting his thoughts away from this mess he had just been through. He would do almost anything to undo what had happened, but he couldn't quell his jealousy. And amid it all he knew that Aeryn was right. Why was he jealous of a dead man?

He sighed heavily and grabbed a hold of the window frame. There were so many things he wanted to say to her, so many things he should have said, and none of it mattered now, because she had left and he couldn't see her coming back; not after what he had said.

Closing his eyes, he let his head drop and just stood there, leaning against the frame, feeling the warmth of the sunlight on his skin while he felt frozen to the core inside. "You are such an idiot, John," he muttered.

"Agreed."

The sound of her voice made him raise his head and stare out the window for a moment, wondering if he had imagined her saying that or if she had come back. Afraid to turn around, he struggled with his fears for a moment, but then did it anyway and started when he saw her standing in the doorway, one hand on the doorhandle, the other hooked into her belt.

"You want to talk?" she asked, stepped inside and closed the door behind her. "Fine. Let's talk."

For a moment all he could do was stare at her. After almost three years of his mind playing tricks on him, he found it a little hard to believe that she had come back. But here she was. "I thought you were gone," was the only thing he could think of saying.

"I changed my mind. Sometimes the insight of strangers can clarify matters," she replied and settled down on the chair by the door.

"Strangers?" he asked. "What are you talking about?"

She folded her hands and glanced down at them for a moment, her hair falling down over her face and obscuring it from his view. "That's not important," she said quietly. "What is important is that I had not taken your side into consideration. I am doing so now and I am willing to talk about this if you think it may help."

He took a hesitant step forward, a little baffled by this sudden change. Empathy was not something he considered to be one of her strong suits and it was a little humbling to realize that she was quite capable of it. "I think it may," he said. "I'm sorry."

She raised her head and eyed him thoughtfully. "About what? Being jealous? I think I can understand that," she replied. "I still think it's crazy, but I understand too."

"I'm still sorry about it, Aeryn. I don't want to be jealous. I know it's crazy." He settled down on the edge of the bed and made no further attempts to get closer to her. She had set the perimeter by staying by the door and he would respect that for now. "What made you change your mind?"

"Just a little intuition from a stranger," she replied. "What do you want to know? What do you want to talk about?"

He copied her posture by folding his hands and resting his elbows on his knees, while he took a moment to mull that over. "I just want to know how you're feeling," he finally said and glanced over at her. "And don't tell me you're fine, Aeryn. I know you're not."

She leaned back on the chair, her expression thoughtful, all of her anger gone. Whatever had happened during the hours she had been away, it had made a whole world of difference. "You're right," she agreed. "I'm not fine. I'm worried. About the child. I'm tired, I'm ... confused." Drawing in a deep breath, she paused for a moment. "I can't see the future."

He ducked his head a little, trying to come up with the right thing to say to that one. "The doctor said that the drug he gave you would take a solarday to leave your system again. Maybe that's why you're depressed," he suggested.

"I'm not depressed," she said quietly. "I just feel weak ... and I don't like that feeling. I fell asleep in the lobby. I was exhausted from taking the levelriser to the ground floor." She paused, a frown furrowing her brow. "I'm not used to feeling weak, John. I don't want to be weak."

"You're not," he argued. "You're just not one hundred percent right now and you have to give yourself time to heal."

For a moment, she closed her eyes and just sat there, unmoving, pale as a ghost, and he wanted more than anything to go to her and soothe her concerns. But he didn't really believe she needed that right now. She was feeling vulnerable and if he coddled her now, he would only increase that feeling.

"I suppose I have the time now," she finally said and opened her eyes again. "Time to heal while the child grows," she added. "The child. It's all right?" she asked.

"She's fine," he replied. "Aeryn ..." he added, but hesitated. "I still think we should talk about ... you know ... but I think we should wait. At least until you're feeling better."

Her eyes narrowed a little, but she nodded in response to his suggestion. "That would be ... preferable," she replied, and then lowered her chin toward her chest. "I'm so tired," she whispered. "I hate this."

"Then get some more sleep," he suggested. "I can go out and find something to eat for both of us in the meantime."

Raising her eyes to meet his again, she very nearly smiled. There was a hint there, a slow tug at the corners of her mouth. "I would like that," she replied.

***

Aboard Moya

Two full solardays had passed since D'Argo had left them behind and Chiana was beyond worried at that point. The fact that neither Jool nor Rygel seemed the least bit upset about it didn't make things any less edgy.

The young Nebari had spent the better part of the morning pacing through the bays, trying to find something to do which would occupy her thoughts. But there was nothing going on and that raised her nervousness to new levels.

She stopped in the large landing bay and gazed almost anxiously up at the transport pod. If she went after him, she might be able to help him. There was no doubt in her mind that he was in trouble. What she just didn't understand was why she hadn't had any visions yet. She usually got them when something bad was about to happen.

"Frell that," she muttered. "He needs help. Yeah, he does."

"Who are you talking to?"

She swirled around to face Jool, who stood a few feet behind her, her hands on her hips, her eyes glowing in the semi-darkness of the bay. "Uh ... no one," Chiana replied. "Look, Jool, D'Argo is in trouble. I know he is. And we have to do something."

"What is it I keep telling you, Chi?" Jool asked, her expression stern. "If he can't take care of himself on that world, neither can we. We're much better off staying here."

"We can't stay here forever," Chiana argued. "And ... and what if something has happened to him, huh? Are you ... just gonna forget about him?"

"Of course not. But what can we do?" Jool spread out her arms. "At least we're safe on Moya."

"Yeah, for the time being," Chiana countered, wanting at least Jool to understand what was going on. "But what if that's a Peacekeeper outpost out there? What if they ... torture D'Argo and ... and ... they find out where we are? Then we're not safe any more, princess."

Jool frowned. "Frell," she muttered. "I hadn't thought of that. What can we do?"

"We can go after him, find out if ... if he's still around," Chiana suggested, but instantly noted the uncertain look in Jool's eyes. "Well, I could go after him," she added with a sigh.

"No, we should both go," Jool replied. "Right now, before I change my mind."

"All right. Let's go," Chiana said, impulsive as ever. The mere thought of being able to do something made her feel better already. "Pilot, Jool and I are going after D'Argo. We need to know if he's all right," she called.

"I do not think that is such a good idea, Chiana," Pilot replied instantly.

"I have to know, Pilot. It's driving me fahrbot, not knowing," Chiana replied and climbed the steps to the pod. "If we don't come back soon or call in, you should leave," she added.

Pilot sighed audibly. "All right, Chiana. Be careful," he admonished.

"Oh, we intend to," Jool inserted and followed Chiana up the ladder.

***

Chiana was not an accomplished pilot and Jool became fully aware of that while the Nebari flew them toward that little blue and green planet where D'Argo had gone. She was good enough to avoid bumping into things, but their course wasn't exactly straight. A tad worried about that, Jool kept an eye on their trajectory, which was supposedly the same one that D'Argo had followed, and had to fight herself to avoid any snide comments. But it was a battle she was quickly losing.

"Where the frell did you learn to fly?" she finally commented.

Chiana gave her a sideways glance, all tense from fighting the controls. "You wanna try? I bet you wouldn't be much better at it," she retorted, sounding hurt.

Jool made a face. "Granted," she agreed, "since I can't fly worth dren. I never learned how." Admitting it did not chip her pride. On Interion, young ladies like herself were not required to learn such crude and rudimentary skills as flying landing pods. Now she felt that it might be a good idea to learn it one of these days; if Chiana didn't fly them straight into the sun, of course.

"How come?" Chiana asked while trying hard to keep the pod on a fairly straight course.

"Didn't need to. I had no intention of ever leaving my home world," Jool replied with regret in her voice. "If my frelling cousins hadn't convinced me to go on that trip, I would still be at home, probably happily married with a few kids."

Chiana chuckled, but there was something halfhearted about it. "Kids, huh?" she asked. "That would be frelling wonderful, wouldn't it? Me, I'm just happy to still be alive."

Jool felt her heart drop at the tone of Chiana's voice. "What's Nebari Prime like?" she asked, keeping in mind that her mother had once reminded her that to show interest in those around you could be beneficial at some point.

"Cold," Chiana replied and left it at that.

"What do you mean, cold? As in the weather?" Jool persisted, convinced that she was misunderstanding.

"Nah, not the weather. The weather was always ... fine. Yeah, it was fine. But ... the people. They were cold. All of them, believing in the greater good, whatever the frell that's supposed to be," Chiana replied, keeping her eyes on their destination. "Nerri, he taught me early on how to behave around the others, you know? Like, not show my feelings and dren like that. We couldn't wait to get away from there."

"Nerri is your brother, right?" Jool asked, finding herself to be rather curious about Chiana's background.

"Yeah. He ... he taught me everything I know. Nerri is one of the good guys, you know? He's ... always full of ideas and dren." Chiana chuckled halfheartedly and shifted a little in her seat. "Sort of like Crichton," she added.

Jool realized where this was heading and knew that she should try to console her friend. It was obvious to her that Chiana felt the same way about Crichton as she did about Nerri. In a sense, she figured Chiana had found a substitute brother in Crichton, but that of course didn't stop the wayward Nebari from wanting to frell his brains out. "Don't you think Nerri is able to look out for himself? I mean, he's made it this far, hasn't he? And Crichton can always come up with a plan. They may be fahrbot most of the time, but he does come up with a lot of things, doesn't he?"

"Yeah, you're probably right," Chiana agreed hesitantly and shifted again. "We're almost there," she added, nodding toward the planet looming in the distance.

"I'm still not sure this is such a good idea," Jool inserted, feeling slightly intimidated by the thought of what could await them on that world.

"Blez! It'll be cool," Chiana insisted. "Pilot, we're almost there. We'll get back to you as soon as we can," she promised.

"Very well, Chiana. Be careful," Pilot admonished them. "Both of you."

"Fahrbot. You are completely fahrbot. Both of you," Rygel's voice rang from the speakers and the girls glanced at each other and grinned.

"Yeah, well, at least we're trying to do something," Chiana replied.

"You just stay on Moya and protect your tiny, shiny hiney," Jool added and they both started laughing.

"Very amusing," Rygel huffed. "Just be careful. New worlds should not be taken lightly. Especially not when they swallow up a Luxan warrior without a trace."

The pod streaked into the upper atmosphere of the planet and the speakers erupted with static. "Frell. There goes our moral backup," Chiana said with a sideways glance at Jool.

"We'll be fine," Jool assured her although she didn't believe it for a microt.

***

Chiana was not really confident that all was well when she set the pod down. She had spotted D'Argo's ship on what appeared to be some kind of landing strip and she hoped it meant the Luxan was still alive. There was nobody there to meet them and there was no attempt to communicate either. In Chiana's book this could mean one of two things. Either this world was dead, which would make no sense at all since Pilot claimed to have picked up some sort of communication from this planet, or these were hostile beings and they were just waiting for Chiana and Jool to get out of the pod so they could attack.

Jool glanced out one of the windows and frowned. "What do you think, Chi?" she asked.

"Well, that's D'Argo's ship out there. Let's go out and take a look. But be careful," Chiana replied and headed for the exit.

They climbed down the ladder and turned around to face this world. Apart from the sound of the ocean lapping against the shore not too far away and a few birds screaming overhead as they bopped on the wind, there were no sounds that Chiana could associated with any kind of civilization. She turned her face into the wind and briefly closed her eyes, letting it brush over her face and through her hair. There was a strange tang in the air, but she found that she rather liked it. It smelled fresh and alive and was a nice change from the sometimes stale air on Moya.

With a frown, she opened her eyes and turned her attention inland from where her sensitive ears had suddenly picked up the sound of approaching vehicles. So this world was not dead then, she thought. "Here they come," she said aloud.

Jool drew back toward the pod, uncertainty in her eyes. "We can still get away, Chiana. If we take off now, we can still make it."

"Frell that. I'm not leaving without D'Argo," Chiana replied, giving her a sideways glance. Then she turned back toward the vehicles that were almost within reach and frowned. "Frell," she muttered. "They're Sebacean."

Three vehicles, all of them open, came to a screeching halt about ten feet from the pod and several Sebaceans jumped out. Chiana instantly noticed that none of them were armed, which made her feel a little better about the whole thing. "Hey," she said, raising one hand in greeting. There were some pretty cute-looking individuals among these guys.

One of them took the lead, but he looked rather confused. "Hi there. Uh ... who are you? Are you with the other alien?" he asked, directing his question to Chiana.

"Yeah. Where is he?" she countered, but instantly noted that there was something wrong here. He stared at her with obvious confusion.

Jool stepped forward and nodded vigorously, but said nothing to the guy. That seemed to do the trick. He smiled and held a hand out to them. "Welcome. I'm sure you want to join your friend, right? You do understand me, don't you?"

Again Jool nodded.

"What are you doing?" Chiana asked, confused by this animated behavior.

"We can understand them, but they don't understand us, Chi," Jool replied. "It's rather obvious, I'd say."

"Frell," Chiana muttered and then gave the guy a smile. Pointing to herself, she said her name. "Chiana." Then she pointed to Jool. "Jool," she added.

He stared at her for a moment, not entirely certain what she was trying to do, but then it obviously dawned on him and he smiled. "Derek," he replied.

Jool nudged Chiana. "Weird name," she said.

"What do you expect. He's Sebacean. They all have weird names. You think Aeryn and Bialar are normal names?" Chiana replied.

"Please, come with us. You want to see your friend, don't you?" Derek said, waving toward the vehicles they had arrived in.

The girls glanced at each other, and then Chiana shrugged. "Sure. No problem. Let's go see D'Argo," she said and started forward.

Jool stopped her though. "Are you sure it's safe?" she asked.

"Yeah, sure. Come on, Jool, I wanna see D'Argo. That's why we came here in the first place, remember?" she replied and followed Derek and the others over to the vehicles. Jool hesitated for a moment, but then sighed and followed too.

***

They were taken to a large, square building and Derek and two of the others took them inside. Jool was a little taken aback by the whole thing, mainly because everything was so clean. It wasn't like Sebaceans to take such good care of their surroundings with a few exceptions, of course, and it made her wonder if these decidedly very Sebacean-looking beings were Sebacean after all. The mere fact that they didn't have translator microbes was enough to stir her suspicion. And there was something else that bothered her too, but she wanted to discuss it with Chiana in private before she would even allow herself to think that thought out.

"They're very clean, aren't they?" she asked Chiana. "And it's very bright here, too."

"Maybe they like light," Chiana replied, not sounding very interested.

Jool scrunched up her face as they stepped into an levelriser and were taken several floors up. The doors parted again and they followed Derek toward a big set of double doors. He opened them and stepped aside to let them in, and that was where they found D'Argo.

Chiana let out a squeal of joy and threw herself into his arms before he had a chance to respond to their presence. Jool eyed him and noted instantly that he didn't look happy. "Are you okay?" she asked and glanced at Derek, who closed the doors behind himself after stepping inside.

"Yes, yes, of course I am," D'Argo said and disengaged himself from Chiana. "What are you two doing here? I thought I told you to stay on Moya."

"You've been gone for two solardays, D'Argo. We were worried about you," Chiana replied. "I was sure you were in trouble."

The Luxan looked from one to the other and then bellowed with laughter. "And you thought you should save me, huh?" he asked her and affectionately caressed her cheek. "I am fine, Chiana. There is nothing to worry about. In fact, these ... people have been more than hospitable. They just don't understand a frelling word I say and I cannot get a grasp of their words, no matter how I try."

Jool stepped closer. "You know, I've been thinking about that and you know what I think?" she asked and sent a glance back at Derek. "They all sound like Crichton."

Chiana and D'Argo both stared at her in totally confusion.

"It's something about their tone," Jool went on.

"Crichton?" Derek asked and stepped closer, a look of surprise on his face.

Jool turned toward him, realizing that he recognized the name. "John Crichton," she said, forming out the name as clearly as she could.

His expression turned from surprise to something she couldn't identify. She wondered how hard it could be to communicate with these people. All she had to do was pick up their words. She understood them. All she had to do was pronounce them, too.

"You know John Crichton?" Derek asked, his voice almost trembling.

It gave Jool the distinct impression that Crichton was either revered or feared here. Again, she nodded. "John," she confirmed. Then she pointed to herself, hoping to somehow make him understand her. "Jool," she said, tapping her chest.

Derek eyed her for a moment, looking a little confused. "You all know John Crichton?" he asked and again Jool nodded vigorously, fully aware that he hadn't understood her name. She would have to find something to compare the pronunciation to so she could adjust it to their language.

"You know John?" she asked, trying to mimic his way of speaking.

Derek stared at her with obvious fascination, and then nodded. "I've heard of him, yeah," he replied and then grinned. "And I can understand you, too," he added.

Jool gave him a big smile. "I can understand," she told him, forming the words much like he did.

"Uh ... would you excuse me? I have a phonecall to make. I'll be back a little later, okay?" he said and hurried out the door.

Jool turned back to face Chiana and D'Argo and gave them both a big smile.

"How ... how can you talk to him?" Chiana asked, totally stunned.

Jool made a dismissive little flick with her wrist. "Oh, that's easy," she claimed. "But don't you know what this means?"

Chiana and D'Argo glanced at each other, and then looked back at Jool. "No," D'Argo said with a frown.

"We're on Crichton's home world," Jool said. "We're on Earth."

***