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

Rating: G

Synopsis: John's down. It's Christmas back home and his shipmates don't get it.

Aeryn hadn't seen John for awhile, but hadn't really thought about it until everybody met for their late meal and he didn't show up. D'Argo had no idea where he was and, from what Aeryn could tell, he didn't much care at that point anyway. He was too busy flirting with Chiana.

After leaving the center chamber, Aeryn came to a stop again, uncertain of where to look first. There were many places the Human would go. "Pilot?" she called instead, hoping he had an answer for her.

"Yes, Officer Sun?"

"Do you know where Crichton is?" she asked.

"I believe he is on the terrace, Officer Sun," Pilot replied, sounding a little preoccupied.

Aeryn frowned a little at his tone of voice, but figured she would have to deal with one problem at a time. "Thank you, Pilot," she said and headed in the direction of the terrace. John seemed to have a fondness for it and spent time there when he wanted to be alone.

The doors parted, admitting her onto the terrace, and she stopped briefly to glance up at the sea of stars. It was beyond her how anyone could find all those glowing spots out there fascinating, but she had stopped questioning the logic behind John's actions.

With a slight sigh, she glanced around and found him sitting on the floor, his back against the wall a few feet from the door. His hands were folded, his arms resting on top of his knees and he hadn't noticed her yet.

Aeryn took a moment to just watch him, to try and maybe understand him a little better, but as always it didn't help. He was and would probably always remain an enigma to her. "There you are," she stated and turned to face him fully.

John raised his head and looked at her for a moment, his expression odd. She couldn't read him and didn't know what to make of his present mood. And all he did was give her a shadow of a smile and drop his gaze to the floor again.

"We're having something to eat now. I was just wondering where you were," she said and took a step closer.

"Not hungry," he replied curtly.

For a moment, Aeryn considered going back to join the others and leave this frelling strange Human to his own devices, but there was something about him that made her choose to stay. She had no real word for what she felt when she saw him like this, but she didn't like it. She wanted to do something to make him feel better.

"Eating is rather essential, Crichton," she said, in want of something more profound to say. She knew up front that it would make no difference to him. "What's wrong?" she then asked, hoping that maybe he would clarify things for her so she would know how to handle this.

"Nothing," he claimed without looking at her. "I'm just not hungry, okay?"

Being sympathetic was not her thing, neither was comforting others, but she had the distinct feeling that he might need some cheering up. But before she could do that, she would have to find out what was wrong. Without further ado, she settled down next to him, took up mostly the same position as him, and eyed him thoughtfully. "Don't tell me nothing is wrong. I can tell just by looking at you that you're ... preoccupied," she said, not knowing if that was the right word for this. "So, tell me. What's wrong?"

He remained silent for a while, stared at nothing, did nothing, and it started to irk her a little that he, who was usually talking so much she felt the need to cover her ears, wouldn't say anything. But then he sighed. It was heavy and it made her feel oddly emotional. "I did a bit of ... counting today," he started and let something drop he'd been holding in his hands. Aeryn stared at the brownish rectangle of combined sheets and wondered what that was supposed to be, but he started talking again before she could ask. "I've been keeping a sort of calendar since I left home. You know, counting the days, that sort of thing. And by my calculations ... more or less ... today is Christmas back home."

Aeryn eyed him for a moment longer, then looked down at the pad between his feet again. "Chris ... mas?" she ask with a frown.

That made him chuckle a little helplessly. "Christ - mas," he corrected her. "It's ... well ... sort of a religious holiday. You know, the family gets together, they eat, they drink, they exchange presents, they fight. Everybody's there."

"Sounds crowded," Aeryn replied with that frown still furrowing her brow. She knew she wasn't comprehending what this ... Christmas meant to him. "Are you religious, then?" she asked on.

That made him chuckle again. "Not really," he said with a light shake of the head. "It's not so much the religious aspect that brings people together any more. It's an excuse to hang out with the family, see people you haven't seen in a long while. It's ... cozy. It makes you feel good inside ..." He trailed off and rubbed the back of one hand against his nose.

"So ... this is pretty special," she said, at least having grasped that aspect of it.

"Yeah. Pretty special," he agreed in a husky tone of voice.

Aeryn glanced back out at the stars and wondered why he was sitting here then. "If company is so important for this Christmas ... why are you out here all alone?" she asked.

He leaned his head back against the wall behind him and closed his eyes. "Because ... I am alone. I miss my family, Aeryn. My dad, my sisters, aunts and uncles. Friends. Hell, I miss Earth. I miss it bad."

She glanced at him, knowing deep down what he needed right now. What made her feel a little odd was that she had never felt this way before. She would never have cared before. 'Things change,' she thought to herself. "Well," she said and got up again. "Whenever you feel like rejoining us, we're in the center chamber, eating."

He glanced up at her, his expression tense. "Right," he agreed and returned to his quiet contemplations.

Aeryn sighed again and left the terrace. Halfway to the center chamber she stopped short, a thoughtful look in her eyes. "Pilot?" she called.

"Yes, Officer Sun," he replied instantly.

"Is everybody still in the center chamber?" she asked.


John had no idea how long he had been on the terrace after Aeryn had once again left him to his own devices, but the loneliness finally became too much for him. He hoped that the others would still be in the center chamber so he didn't have to go to bed without having at least enjoyed their company for a bit, but when he got there the room was deserted.

For a moment, he considered his options, tried to come up with a plan of action, then sighed and left again to go to bed. The sleep cycle had begun and the others had probably turned in already. There was no sense in sticking around.

With those thoughts and a heavy heart, he headed toward his quarters and probably a sleepless night ahead of him. But once there, he fell asleep almost at once and dreamt of Christmas back home, of his father and sisters and the rest of the family. And all through it, he knew it was a dream, knew that he would wake up to a ship full of people who had no idea what Christmas was, and they wouldn't care even if they did know.

The obvious unreality of the dream made it seem stilted and empty and took the joy right out of it. And all he could do was sit around in this dreamworld and wait to wake up again.


John woke up suddenly, not because of another disaster threatening, but because someone was blowing on his face. On the basis of his dream he thought it had to be one of his sisters, but the face he focused on, although pretty, belonged to neither of the twins. Nor did it belong to any Earthling he had ever come across.

"Hey, sleepyhead," Chiana cooed and pulled back when he sat up. "Time to eat," she added and chuckled lightheartedly.

Even though the heaviness still resided in his heart and his mind still was clouded by homesickness, he had to smile. Chiana had become something of a replacement sister for him and her literally always good mood made it hard for him to stay angry or depressed for too long.

"Come on, Crichton. You don't wanna miss two meals in a row, do you?" she asked and tossed his pants at him.

Giving her a scowl, John grabbed his pants and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. "You go on ahead. I'll be right there," he told her. When she made no move to leave, he gave her a crooked grin. "Go on, nixar. Get outta here."

Chiana chuckled. "Just don't be late, old man," she replied and hurried off.


Aeryn looked up when John entered the center chamber and couldn't help a small smile from spreading over her lips. The expression on his face was exactly what she had aimed at. Folding her arms over her chest, she watched him as he came to a stop, eyes wide.

His surprise turned to obvious suspicion and he glanced around at all of them, one after another. His gaze finally settled on Aeryn, who gave him a self-satisfied smile. "What is all this?" he asked, making a sweeping gesture toward the well-set table, which was covered with all sorts of food.

Aeryn arched an eyebrow. "Well, we may not be family and there was no time to get any presents, but I figured we could at least share an elaborate meal and enjoy each other's company for a bit. I'm sure we can squeeze in some fighting too, if you think that's necessary to get in the mood."

"Chiana has truly outdone herself, John," Zhaan inserted with a smile.

"Truly," Rygel agreed and stuffed a handful of something unidentifiable into his mouth.

"This is a feast fit for warriors," D'Argo chimed in and gave the blushing Nebari girl an appreciative look.

Chiana had turned a darker shade of grey, the equivalent of a healthy blush on a human face, and she was one big grin. "None of us know what you eat at Christmas, so I figured I'd just come up with various dishes," she said.

John stood there, looking from one to the other until his gaze once again settled on Aeryn. "You guys ..." he said and cleared his throat. "This is ... amazing," he added and managed a grin.

Aeryn made a face, still not comfortable with all those feelings, but she made no snide comments about it. Instead, she stepped up to him and pecked him on the cheek. "So, what do you say on an occasion like this?"

"Well ...," John tried and again had to clear his throat. "Merry Christmas is one of them," he added.

"Well, Merry Christmas then," Aeryn replied and turned to the table. "Let's eat," she added and took a seat.


John settled down at the table next to Aeryn and glanced around at all the different dishes. More than half of them he didn't recognize, but it didn't really matter. What mattered was the fact that these people, these aliens he called friends out here in the Uncharted Territories, had gone out of their way to make him feel better. None of them had any understanding of the traditions surrounding Christmas, but they still tried to make things better for him and he could only appreciate the effort they had put into it.

Sending a sideways glance at Aeryn, he had to admit to himself that this felt so much better because the idea had come from her. He knew it had even though she probably wouldn't take credit for it. Despite her tough demeanor, she was a big softy underneath. Not that he would ever dare say that to her out loud.

Finding it hard to control his emotions, he took a moment to compose himself. Then he shook his head. "Thanks, guys. This really makes up for a lot," he said.

D'Argo gave him a serious look. "We all know what it's like to miss home, John," he said, his voice a tad darker than usual, a sure sign that he was a little emotional himself.

"Yeah," Chiana agreed. "All of us."

"I concur," Rygel said between mouthfuls.

Zhaan gave him one of her usual smiles and reached across the table to grab his hand in hers and give it a light squeeze. "We do understand, John," she assured him.

"Besides, there seems to be nothing that cheers us all up more than a good meal," Aeryn agreed and nudged him in the ribs.

Glancing at her, he gave her a smile. "Thanks, all of you," he repeated. "Let's chow down," he added and grinned a little helplessly when the majority of them gave him odd looks.

"I think that means, let's eat," Aeryn said and winked at him.

And so they did. And all John could think was that Christmas, in all its splendor, had come to the Uncharted Territories.