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

Rating: G

Synopsis: At the end of an exciting life, one can only reminsice before letting go.

"You're In The Arms Of The Angel
May You Find Some Comfort Here"
Sarah MacLachlan's Angel

The rays of the setting sun fell through the open windows at an angle that told of the impending eve, of the witching hour between day and night, the twilight time that brought the onset of the darkness that lasted far too long and brought out far too many ghosts.

The small cottage settled in the rays of the dying sun, the creaks and pops of the wood familiar like an old friend by now. Countless cycles has passed since the first time they had set foot in this place. He had found it by accident, had claimed it for his own and rebuilt it with help from his friends; better friends than any he had ever had on Earth. It had been ramshackle at first, barely worth noticing on her scale, yet somehow he had managed to revive the old cottage and make it livable. And after so many cycles here, it was now more home than anywhere else ever had been.

The cottage had seen the birth of their children, the first of which he had never really been sure had been completely his, the second and third strapping young lads – as he had called them. Her favorite, although she had been hard pressed to show any favoritism towards any of her children, had always been her daughter, her first-born.

Ann Leslie Crichton had been the only one of their children to have human names. The two boys they had named Talyn and Tauvo. John had been reluctant to call his son Tauvo, but Aeryn had reminded him then that if it hadn't been for Tauvo, they would never have met. She thought it was a good way to honor Crais' younger brother and John had eventually agreed.

Well, their children were all grown up now and had long since moved away from home. Talyn was a scientist, an inventor of great things, and the only of the three who had inherited his father's feel for wormholes. Tauvo was a pilot and Aeryn had always smiled at the irony of it. Her youngest son, named after her last captain's late brother, was a pilot. Ann, however, had taken a long time to find her place in life and when she finally had, she had surprised both her parents by her choice of a livelihood. She had become a priestess, teaching a mixture of human and sebacean ancient religions from which she had picked only the best.

Talyn was a father of triplet boys. They were as identical as three drops of water and boisterous even in their teens. Tauvo was the father four girls and two boys and one more on the way. Ann had never found a lifemate or settled down to have offspring. John had always blamed that on her sinister and sometimes depressing disposition, but Aeryn had spent Ann's entire childhood with watching the girl and thought she knew what had brought about this quite, thoughtful creature that Ann had always been. Aeryn had always firmly believed that Ann's mind had been influenced by the trouble her parents had always been in ever since her conception and all the way up to the time of her birth.

But now another day was coming to an end on this little backwater that looked so much like Earth. All was calm inside, and outside only a mild breeze was stirring the hooka-trees that swayed lightly and whistled softly when the breeze hit their hollowed-out trunks from the right angle.

The cottage was quite now, weighed down by the stillness of a long life lived and ended, entombing the one left behind within its warm, solid walls; surrounding the survivor with bits and pieces still binding the lost one to this life.

A gunbelt here, a scarf there, a vest hanging forgotten over the back of a chair, a t-shirt on the bed, a pair of boots in the closet. The brush lying on the dresser in the bedroom still had hairs caught between its bristles and there were still two dentics in the container in the bathroom.

With a hand shaking lightly from progressed age, he ran his fingers over the strands of dark brown hair and smiled a tired smile. Who would have thought that he would outlive her? Who would have believed that a fully Sebacean female with a life expectancy of close to two hundred earth-years would be outlived by a Human with a feeble life expectancy of seventy to one hundred years?

The smile faded from his lips and his failing gaze was once again drawn back to the open windows and the breeze softly brushing through them. He could smell her on the wind, the smell of soil and flowers and the sweetness of Sebacean sweat. She had been gone nearly a monan now and Ann and Talyn had only recently agreed to leave him to his own devices again. Ann had looked at him with those sad eyes of hers and he knew that she had realized what he had in mind.

Nothing drastic. No, he was over that part of life where he would rush out and do something foolhardy. It had all been a matter of hanging on long enough so she would not have to watch him die again. He had promised her that at one point, on a night after the kids had been tugged in and they'd both had a little too much raslac. "Promise me one thing, John," she had said and taken his hand in hers, her grip harsh, almost painful. "Promise me that I will never have to watch you die again."

Where it had come from had been beyond him at the time. Theirs had been a quite life at that point, a steady, routine-bound life. But he had promised her and he had kept that promise. It had taken some doing, granted, but he had managed to keep himself upright and moving.

In the end, though, her heart had failed. At the tender age of one hundred and forty-three cycles, her heart had given up the fight and she had slipped away in the night, quietly and undramatically. He had held her, aware of which path she had subconsciously chosen, and had given her permission to let go when it had finally come to it; not that he would have been able to hold her back at that point. But he had told her to let go, to just go on ahead. And he had promised her, with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, that he would be right behind her.

Well, it had taken him a monan to work up the courage to finally allow himself the peace he had longed for, but not before he had taken a last look around this cottage, this home they had shared. His affairs were in order. He had written letters to all three of his kids, explaining that there was nothing to be sorry about, that he and their mother had lived a long, happy and at times hectic life, but that everything had to come to an end and that he was happy to be going.

With a somewhat shaky sigh, he glanced around the bedroom once more, then made his way back into the livingroom and settled down in his favorite easy chair by the double doors leading out onto the grassland beyond. The doors were open and the wind-chime clanged lightly in tune with the whistling hooka-trees outside.

The first moon had started its climb up over the horizon and the second one would be close behind. He relaxed in his chair and briefly went over the inventory of his life once more. He had lived more than any Human ever had. He had fathered three children – four if he counted in Katralla's little girl – and ten grandchildren. He had helped liberate this part of the universe from a dangerous threat and he had been loved and had loved in return. What more was there in life? He felt accomplished, sated, content. The light of his life had gone ahead to where ever one went at the end of the physical existence and it was about time that he caught up with her.

That thought brought a tired smile to his lips. She had always been one step ahead of him and he had always been running to keep up with her. More tired than he could ever remember having felt in his life, he closed his eyes and let the rising darkness engulf him. Whatever lay beyond, it was more than he would ever be able to understand and better than anything he could ever hope for. No matter where it was or what it was, he knew she was there waiting for him. There was no place like home and home, after all, was where the heart was. Well, his heart was with her and it was time to go home.

The End