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

Rating: PG-13 at least. It's a bit icky at times.

Synopsis: When you really love someone, sometimes you have to make big sacrifices.

The world snapped into focus with vicious validity while images imagined and real rushed down her optic nerves, showing her things she knew could not exist as well as things she knew existed but were too horrible to accept.

The first thing she consciously realized was that this horrible ache, this pulsing under her skin, was not one big thing, but something comprised of many smaller aches. But there were so many of them that it felt like her entire body was covered by one, big bruise.

The second thing she realized was that she was cold. Although the effort of raising her head was nearly beyond her at this point in time, she did it anyway. She could literally feel the tendons in her neck creak with the effort, but she had to know.

With movement came a rise in blood-flow and with that came heightened awareness of her surroundings and the obvious dilemma she now found herself in. She was naked and strapped to a steel table. Her ankles, wrists and chest were locked to the unrelenting surface beneath her and wires and transparent tubes were connected to her just about everywhere.

The movement sent a scream of agony through her and for the briefest of microts she considered giving into it by screaming her head off. But then her training took over and forced her to remain silent. Instead, she settled her now aching head back down on the hard surface beneath her and struggled to regain the breath the pain had stolen.

Slowly, the reality of her situation resurfaced from her previously drugged mind. She had been captured. A little more carefully this time, she raised her head a second time and looked down herself. The light bulge of her stomach was not caused by overfeeding. She was pregnant and these fekkiks had released the embryo from stasis. She also knew that they would not touch her or effectively hurt her until the baby was born. That gave her time. Time to...

She blinked and lowered her head once more. Time to what? There was something nagging at the back of her mind, something urgent, something the drugs had forced her to forget.

Before she could gather her thoughts completely though, she was harshly interrupted by a very base scream of agony from the next room. Suddenly indifferent to her own pains, she raised her head and looked over at the double doors separating her from the thing the drugs had forced her to forget. The thing that returned to her clear as day. She suddenly remembered everything, remembered how it had all started, what had happened since and, most prominently, who was screaming in the next room.

Aggravated beyond compare, she fought the restraints, struggling against them with all her might. As long as they did not touch her, she still had time. She remembered him bucking against the hands holding him, the restraints being slapped on him, his anger almost touchable. Then he had started joking, the fear in his voice very audible. And then the screaming had started. They had driven needles the size of fingers into his arms and legs – needles attached to tubes that fed unknown substances into his body. The screaming came and went. With every change in his body, he found new things to scream about. They were mutating him for whatever purpose, were trying to alter his body and mind with drugs and chemical agents.

And then they had turned their attentions to her. But even though he was consumed by pain and begging for mercy, he was the one to point out to them that she was pregnant, that the baby was special. She knew why he had done it, knew why he had told them. He was hoping they would leave her alone so she could break free and help him. Well, she was going to do that, no matter how much it hurt. She was going to kick their collective eemas and kill them for what they had done to him.

Her anger fueled her strength and the restraint on her left wrist, hidden from view from the other room, loosened a little. She gritted her teeth against the agony of her protesting joints and fought the restraints with a vigor she was certain their captors did not expect from her. Just then, the double doors slid open and one of the scientists or whatever the frell they were came in to retrieve something before heading back to whatever the frell they were doing in there.

In his haste, the scientist forgot to close the doors again and she had a perfectly clear view of him. Whatever changes they were forcing on him were not yet visible on the outside, but it was clear enough that he was suffering the torments of Hezmana.

At that very moment, he turned his head and caught sight of her. His eyes were bloodshot and tears were continuously leaking from them. "Help me," he mouthed, then squeezed his eyes shut, obviously trying to tolerate whatever the frell they were doing to him. But it was immediately apparent that he couldn't.

One of the lab-coats noticed the doors and shut them a microt before he started screaming again. Prompted out of immobility, she started fighting the restraints again with renewed strength and ever-growing hatred.

What these fekkiks did not seem to realize was that pain fueled her anger and the anger upped her stamina. If they had taken her background into consideration, her being an ex-Peacekeeper, they would have realized this and treated her accordingly. But the fact remained that they had not done much to restrain her and she knew that she could break the restraints. All she had to do was put a little backbone in it and every scream from the next room helped her accomplish what was seemingly an impossible task.

While they worked on John and didn't pay attention to her, she kept fighting the restraints, every wiggle and pull loosening her left wrist restraint more until it finally came loose. From there the rest was no problem. She undid the strap over her chest, then the strap around the right wrist before sitting up and undoing the straps on her ankles. Then she pulled all the wires and tubes out of her arms, legs and neck, and slid off the table. Her legs were a little wobbly beneath her, but with every move she made, she became stronger.

Nudity had never held her back and she did not care about the fact that she did not have a thread on while the room next to this was filled with males. She gritted her teeth and patted over to the double doors to send a look through one of the observation windows. They were still busy working on John. She avoided looking at him right then to keep her mind focused on what she had to do. Instead, she counted the scientists present in the next room and sneered angrily.

At that very moment, one of the scientists in the other room caught sight of her. His eyes widened, but before he could sound the alarm, Aeryn reared back a step and hammered the right-side door open with her foot. The door hit one of the scientists in the back with enough force to throw him forward against another, who in turn lost his balance and hit the floor, ripping a tray of tools with him when he fell.

The result was total chaos in the matter of one microt. Aeryn threw herself into the room and hit another of the six scientists, toppling the male over in the process. She hammered her elbow down on his throat, breaking it with the impact. Without hesitation, her previous fatigue and pain all but forgotten, she launched herself back to her feet, holding a scalpel in one hand and one of those oversized needles in the other. She lashed out at the first of the scientists to get within her reach and used the one with the broken throat, who was still struggling and dying slowly, as leverage to launch herself at another hapless victim. With a swift forward thrust, she embedded the scalpel in his eye and then used the heel of her hand to drive it into his brain. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Another one, the one who had fallen over and pulled the tray down with him, ended up with the finger-tick needle through his throat while Aeryn jumped the one she had hit with the door and broke his neck in one swift go. She hammered her foot into one of them while making a grab for another, whose back she broke when she hammered him full force into the edge of the table.

The one she had kicked away was regaining his composure, so Aeryn picked up the stand the tray had been sitting on and hammered it through his chest, nailing him to the wall behind. He too would die a slow and agonizing death.

Breathing hard, her vision narrowed with the blood rush that had overcome her, she looked around the room and spotted the sixth and last scientist, who stood with his back against the wall and his eyes wide. There was no doubt in her mind that he was the leader. Sneering hatefully, she grabbed for the nearest thing she could find, which was a handful of those needles, and advanced on him.

He raised both hands, apparently attempting to ward her off, but she did not slow down. "Don't kill me. I'm the only one who can reverse his transformation," he rasped, his voice thick with fear.

Aeryn bared her teeth in a feral display and stopped a few denches in front of him. "I'll find someone else," she snarled and hammered a collection of finger-thick needles into his face with enough force for them to penetrate his skull and nail him to the wall. He twitched for a microt or two and then stopped moving.

"Hey-ho for the cavalry."

Aeryn turned around to face John, who was giving her a shaky grin while trying to control his breathing, which came in ragged little gasps. She strode over to the table and undid the straps before focusing on the needles sticking out of him everywhere. "I'll do this quick," she stated, grabbed the first needle and ripped it out.

He jerked and emitted a sort of strangled mewling sound. She glanced at him, but did not allow herself to register that this had to be very painful for him. She could deal with the after-effects later, when they were safe. Right now, all that mattered was to get him off this frelling table and out of this frelling dren-hole.

Intent on doing just that, she sped up the extraction of the needles and by the time she was almost there he no longer pretended that he could control the pain. He yelped with every needle she yanked out of him.

The microt she had extracted the last needle, she grabbed him, hauled him up in a sitting position, grabbed his legs and pulled them over the edge of the table. He slumped over then, nearly driving her backwards with his weight. She stopped and wrapped her arms around him. "I know you must be in pain, John, but we have to get out of here. You need to help me. I can't carry you," she said quietly. The blood-thirsty rage of microts before had subsided. She was still angry enough to kill a Scarran with her bare hands, but those that had done this to him had paid and it took the edge off.

"I know," he rasped and chuckled half-heartedly. "Don't you think you should put something on first, though?" he added and somehow managed to haul himself away from her. "However much I love seeing you naked, it's not something I wanna share with the universe."

She gave him a frown for his trouble, then glanced down herself. Apart from some very unattractive bruises and blood spatters, she was still very much naked. A quick glance around gave her an idea. "Can you sit on your own?" she asked. He nodded shakily and she released him to get lab coats off two of the dead males. She shrugged into the smaller one herself and then returned to the table to help John get into the other one. "I don't mind seeing you naked either," she said with a vague smile. "I just prefer it when you don't look like you've been beaten into a pulp."

He chuckled helplessly and allowed her to help him off the table. His knees nearly folded up under him and he made a weak grab for her to prevent the fall. Out of breath and quite obviously in pain, he leaned heavily on her. "I'm a mess," he finally said.

"Yes," she agreed. "So am I. But we'll make it. We always make it."


Somehow, her words came true. Aeryn did not linger on what could have been or what might await them around the next corner. All she cared about was getting them out in one piece and she would do that any way she saw fit. If it meant rolling over a friend in the process, she would do that without blinking at this point.

They crossed corridors without number, halting briefly at each intersection to make certain the road ahead was clear, and Aeryn never stopped to think about the oddity it was that a station like this – or whatever the frell this was – would be this devoid of personnel. It did not bother her. What bothered her was that she was unarmed. Although her hands were deadly weapons in their own right, she preferred the security of a pulsepistol by her side and would go far to retrieve one if need be. But her main priority, the only thing that mattered, was to get her mate out of this mess they had once again gotten themselves into.

The slight bulge of her stomach made her movements a little awkward, but not enough for her to slow down on account of it. She could still kick the dren out of anybody she met at this point and could at the same time ensure that her unborn child would be left unharmed.

Right before they hit the next intersection, Aeryn's alarm bells went off. She stopped just shy of the corner and eased her struggling mate down on the floor, warning him to be quiet despite his pain with a mere look. He complied and she gave him a quick smile before easing up against the wall and edging closer to the corner. She listened to the movements she had picked up on, the low voices, and realized two things at once. It had to be the sleep cycle – hence the reduced populace of this place – and there were only two guards. The sound of their uniforms, the creak of the leather, was an almost homely sound to her. But these guards were not on their side. They were the enemy and needed to be taken out swiftly and cleanly. Preferably before either of them could sound any alarms.

She waited, counting silently while she listened to them approach. When they were nearly upon her, a split microt away from realizing there was someone waiting around the corner for them, she launched an attack that she knew her old drill sergeant would have been proud of. Quiet and swift as a black ghost, she literally threw herself around the corner, using surprise and speed to her advantage. She wrapped one arm around one guard's throat, cutting off anything he might have wanted to say, and used him as leverage at the same time, stretching her feet and toes as she hit the second guard's exposed neck. The fool had taken his helmet off, obviously content that he was safe and did not need the protection at home base.

Aeryn sneered hatefully when the attack sent him reeling into the opposite wall while he clawed helplessly at his crushed windpipe. The momentum turned her almost ninety degrees around and she hit the wall with her feet, bounced off it and pulled the second guard down with her, never releasing him from her iron-tight grip. Her intent was to break his neck in the fall and it happened just the way she had predicted it would. She fell on the other guard, using his still struggling body to cushion her fall and the awkward angle this put the other guard's neck in made it snap like a dry twig.

She instantly released him and grabbed the second guard's wrist when he tried, in a vain attempt, to call for backup by pressing the alarm trigger on his uniform. She stopped any further attempts of his by breaking his neck too. A little out of breath, she hunkered over the dead guards for a microt while taking in their size. The first one she had grabbed was smallish, but not too small. It would be a tight fit for her, but she believed she could find use for his uniform.

Quickly, she disrobed both guards, slipped into the smaller one's uniform and could not help a triumphant grin when the uniform fit snugly to her body. Then she grabbed the remaining uniform and helped John into it. The only disadvantage was that neither of the guards had been wearing their helmets or had bothered to bring them with them. She eyed John as he sat on the floor, his breathing rapid, his skin waxen with pain. Nobody would believe he was merely a wounded Peacekeeper. And these guards had not been Peacekeepers either; rather wannabes with too little training and too little discipline.

"Come on," she said quietly and hoisted John back to his feet. "We're not safe yet."

"Can we stay here for a moment longer?" he rasped. "I'm running out of steam."

"No, we can't. We have to get the frell away from here... where ever the frell here is," she countered, pulled his arm over her shoulders and draped one arm around his back. "And you are going to be strong and hang on until we find a way off this contraption."

He glanced at her, his eyes shiny with the pain, but then he nodded once, accepting that she was – as he would call it – 'running this show'. Whether he had nothing to say to this or he was just too tired to say anything was beyond her and it didn't really matter right now.

And she did have to give him credit for trying. He tried to walk, tried to keep upright, but she could feel by the growing weight he exhibited that it was getting harder for him to do so. She, however, did not allow herself to think of what may lie ahead. All she focused on was one step at a time. She would deal with whatever came their way once they ran into it. And now, they were both armed too.


At this point in time, John felt that the way he had felt after continuously being forced to get reacquainted with the Aurora chair would be a step upward from how he felt right now. His feet were basically numb, the bones in his legs had most certainly been turned into rubber and his chest was filled with water while his stomach was a broiling inferno from the nether regions of hell. He had no idea why these scientists had done to him what they had done, didn't know what they had tried to accomplish by filling him with all kinds of gunk and crap. He had understood that they were trying to mutate him and from how he felt, they had at least halfway succeeded. But what it was good for was beyond him.

Naturally, his own knight in shining armor, naked and pregnant, had come to his rescue and had kicked some serious butt. Despite how he felt at present, he could not help but admire her tenacity. She appeared as depleted as he felt, but still she was able to whip into the room and kill everybody in sight without as much as bruising a knuckle. He knew the scientists had intended to do the same to Aeryn as what they had done to him, but that his warning that she was carrying a child like none other had made them abstain from hurting her until the baby was born. At present, he was just grateful for small favors.

Dressed in lab coats and nothing else, they made their way out of the examination rooms and down a long, winding corridor. John was dizzy to the extreme as well as hurting all over and it annoyed him beyond reason that he could feel his own blood seeping out of a dozen holes all over his body. Halfway along another winding corridor, he suddenly felt his stomach revolting against the sudden burst of energy and he somehow found the strength to lurch to a halt and turn away from Aeryn before he threw up on the floor. What came up was vicious, transparent liquid mixed with gobs of blood. "Aw shit," he rasped and coughed helplessly.

Aeryn, true to her upbringing, made no comment nor did she indicate whether she was disgusted or not. Instead, she hoisted him up a bit, wrapped her arm more tightly around him and dragged him on without a word. There was nothing to be said, after all. John just couldn't help thinking what any of his Earth girlfriends would have done in this situation. Alex would very clearly have stated her dislike for the fact that he 'couldn't keep it in until he reached a bathroom'. Others... well, they might have helped him, but none of them would have killed to save him. That much he knew.

On feet that seemed not to function properly, he tried desperately to keep himself upright and moving, but – man – he wanted to lie down more than anything. Aeryn paused at an intersection, either to orient herself or to check for possible hostiles, and then dragged him on. Moments later, they reached another intersection and here they met resistence. Well, Aeryn did. She released him the second she spotted the armed guards and attacked them with no sense for the possibility that she might get hurt. And on account of that, she didn't. The guards were so surprised to be jumped by a half-naked fury that they put up little to no fight while John slid down the wall and sat down hard on the floor.

Aeryn kicked the shit out of the guards, using one as support while she hammered the other into the wall with her feet, and she ended up breaking both their necks. And John could easily imagine what went through her head as she crouched on the floor afterward, a light shining in her eyes while she stared at the dead guards and their guns. "Go get'em," he rasped with a weak grin. Just then his stomach rebelled once more and he turned away as quickly as he could and once again retched on the floor. This time, it was mostly blood. "Oh, this isn't good," he groaned.

"No, it's not. That's why I have to get you the frell out of here," Aeryn agreed.

He glanced over at her and wiped his mouth with the back of one trembling hand. She was in the process of putting on one of the guard's clothes and the mere thought of having to do the same raised the nausea another notch.

Aeryn buttoned up the pants and stuck her bare feet into the boots. "Frell," she growled. "Those fekkiks can find a cure for everything but foot sweat," she said. "We'll have to get you into this uniform," she added and held up the second uniform she had just pulled off the second guard.

John chuckled helplessly and winced when that hurt his already sore throat and cramped-up insides. "You readin' my mind again?" he asked and reached a hand out to her when she stepped up to him. There was no way that he would admit to her that the thought of having to move at all made him feel sicker than he ever had before.

"I know you like the back of my hand," she confirmed, hauled him back to his feet and helped him into the uniform. John just clenched his teeth shut and hoped he didn't need to throw up again while she was struggling to get him into the pants.


He was cold. And so tired. He just wanted to stop, sit down, take a nap. But Aeryn was relentless. She dragged him on, not giving him a chance to voice his fatigue. And even if he had been able to, he knew that it would do no good, that they could not stop. They had to get away. She was pregnant, with his child, and that was more than reason enough for him to keep his mouth shut about how he felt and just trooper on like she did. Although John had never considered himself to be chauvinistic, he did have that little inkling of a voice demanding that he was a man and that a woman couldn't be stronger than him.

That thought forced a laugh from him despite how he felt. How ridiculous was that thought? It did not make any damned difference that Aeryn was a girl. She was tougher than him, faster than him, smarter than him. Hell, if she put her mind to it, she could probably outrank him in most aspects.

Aeryn gave him a concerned glance and slowed down a little. Her expression alone told him that she worried that he had snapped and was going 'loco' on her. "I'm fine," he lied with a grimaced smile. "Let's keep moving."

She nodded once, conserving her strength by refraining from speaking, and dragged him on as fast as she could. The strain of his added weight had to be tough for her – she wasn't exactly in peak condition either – but there was nothing much he could do about it. One thing he knew above all else right now. He would not be able to walk on his own. His legs felt rubbery and kept folding up under him.

After what seemed like forever to him, Aeryn finally slowed down again. She was breathing hard, beads of perspiration standing out on her forehead, but still she kept moving, dragging him along. When they reached the next corner, she came to a stop and listened. There were no sounds that John could pick up, but apparently she had heard something, judging by the way she clamped down on her breathing. "What?" he whispered.

Aeryn glanced at him, her brow furrowed, then she leaned slightly forward, obviously to get a glance of the crossing corridor. "Don't know," she whispered back. Without another word, she started moving again.

They had barely taken more than a few steps before a door a bit further down the corridor opened and their original nemesis stepped out; the one who had caused them to end up in this sorry state. John had no idea where he got the energy from, but he was just as fast as Aeryn to draw his pulsepistol and aim it at the three-eyed freak. Noranti, lover of peace and all things gross, came to a jerking halt when she caught sight of them. Her appearance had changed drastically from the one they had come to be familiar with. She no longer looked disheveled and dirty. Her gray hair, usually a haystack of unruliness, was neatly pulled back into a bun, showing of her extra large ears. She wore what appeared to be a uniform rather than the flowing robes.

"If she makes a move at all, shoot her," John rasped, barely able to keep to his feet despite the support Aeryn was giving him.

"Believe me, I will," she confirmed, her tone steady and angry.

"Now, now, children. Don't be like this," Noranti said, but wisely kept her hands still. "I'm sure you'll understand the necessity of finding out what makes him tick," she added, her attention fully on Aeryn now. "He is unique, and as Scorpius put it before me, unique is always valuable."

"Frell you," Aeryn spat. "Make one move, old crone, and I will put a hole where that freakish eye of yours is."

Noranti's eyes slid from one to the other and back again. "No need for threats. The alterations made to his physique are merely to increase his ability to survive the tests we have planned for him. He is rather frail."

"Stop talking about me as if I wasn't here," John hissed. It was getting harder to breathe for some reason. There were black dots swirling at the periphery of his vision and he knew he was on the verge of passing out. His insides felt cramped and mangled at the same time and it was beginning to be sheer agony to remain standing.

"John, you must understand your role in all this," Noranti said with a smile. "Your name will be remembered for the great contributions you have given to all living beings in this galaxy. Your genetic code alone could mean a cure for countless ailments plaguing everybody out here. You should be proud to be part of such a great discovery."

John was quite frankly baffled by the sheer stupidity of this speech. He glanced at Aeryn and saw nothing but hatred in her eyes and he knew what that meant. She wasn't going to take much more of this before she lost her temper and pulled the trigger. "Aeryn, honey," he almost whispered, no longer able to lend his voice any kind of strength.

"What?" she countered without taking her eyes off Noranti or lowering her aim.

"I think I'm gonna pass out," he confessed. His field of vision was narrowing with every labored beat his heart was taking and he just couldn't convince himself to stay on his feet for much longer.

"No, you're not," Aeryn demanded steadily, still not wavering even when his arm dropped to his side and he almost lost a hold of his pulsepistol. She didn't glance at him, never once took her attention of the old crone. "That does it," she said quietly and pulled the trigger repeatedly.

Noranti went down with a surprised look on her face. Apparently she had not expected them to harm her, no matter what. But she had made the calculation without Aeryn's need to protect her family. Aeryn was as ruthless as any Peacekeeper when her friends and loved ones were threatened.

The microt the old crone hit the floor, Aeryn holstered her weapon, got a better grip on John by hoisting him up a little, and marched on, unaffected by the fact that she had just killed the old woman. All John could do was hang on and hope he didn't pass out before they were safely away.

Their road to a landing bay was not without obstacles, but Aeryn handled these with the same ruthlessness that she had exhibited by shooting Noranti without further ado. Nobody lived to tell the tale. She found a door she steered toward and John almost felt like crying with relief when he saw the rows and rows of various types of vessels sitting in the small bay. Aeryn paid no heed to any warnings or the blaring siren which had begun screeching moments before they had reached the bay. She shot two techs on her way to the nearest middle-class ship and John assumed she had a reason for choosing that one over the prowlers also present in fair numbers.

His vision had narrowed so much at this point that he literally had tunnel vision and it was getting harder and harder for him to keep his head up. Aeryn said nothing, didn't urge him to stay awake. She knew that he would do his damndest to stay with her as long as he could. And it was just about long enough. When she opened the hatch, his vision shut down. He was suddenly blind and it scared him more than anything, but he didn't have the strength to panic about it.

Aeryn dragged him on, up some steps, and through a narrow passageway. He heard the whoosh of the hatch closing behind him and then Aeryn eased him down on a soft surface and released him. Her hands were cold against his skin when she touched his face. "Rest," she whispered, kissed his brow and left him behind.

John heard her walk away and, confident in the knowledge that she would save their asses and get them out of here, he allowed the last struggling hold on his consciousness to dissipate.