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

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Aeryn's back and John is having issues. She knows how to iron them out, though.


Her tone of voice made him stop short in what he was doing and glance toward her. She stood in the doorway to his quarters, her hands on her hips, her eyes alive with livid anger. Totally unaware what might have triggered this, he turned to face her fully, the sight of her once again filling him with a ton of conflicting emotions. "Aeryn," he said, careful to keep his tone level.

"What the frell were you thinking?" she asked, nearly spitting the words out.

"Thinking?" he asked back, totally confused about her approach. Ever since she had returned with Scorpius in tow, she had been begging for forgiveness in her own, strange way and he had been the dominant one. Right now, he had the distinct impression that this situation had taken a rather tight u-turn. "What are you talking about?"

She cocked her head to the right, her eyes narrowing, while she stared at him. "I just had a little chat with D'Argo," she said, "and he told me what happened to you on Arnessk."

Yup, the situation had definitely made a u-turn. This was not what he had expected and it most certainly wasn't something he wanted to talk about; especially with her. "So what?" he asked, attempting to be gruff but not quite managing. Instead of subjecting himself to her scrutinizing stare, he turned back to folding the clothes Chiana had been good enough to wash for him.

"So what my eema," she pressed out. "You could not tell me this before so I could frelling understand your odd behavior?"

"My odd behavior?" he asked and turned back to face her again, anger welling up in him. "I'm not the one who's behaving oddly around here, Aeryn. I'm not the one who dragged Scorpius on board and expects everybody else to get chummy with him." Feelings he hadn't known were there welled up in him like water from a stagnant well and it almost suffocated him. "Do you have any clue what I'm going through? Do you have any idea what it's like for me to have my sanctuary invaded by ... by that ... that creature?"

Aeryn didn't look impressed. She looked angry and upset. "You have got to learn how to handle your frelling feelings better," she said, closed the distance between them and got right in his face about it. "I have been trying to figure out how the frell I could make this all up to you, but all you have done is frelling close to spitting in my face. I couldn't figure it out, couldn't understand how you could be so frelling upset about this, until D'Argo told me what happened to you," she added rather loudly and prodded him in the chest with one finger.

"That's not the point," he snapped back. "The point is that I can't trust you because you don't trust me."

"I made a frelling promise and I keep my promises, no matter what. I don't frelling care if that hurts your feelings and I don't think it's too much to ask that you show a little understanding," she yelled and pushed him.

John didn't know how to respond at first; mainly because he figured she had a point. But being around her was confusing the hell out of him and this didn't really help. "The point is, Aeryn, you just don't give a damn, do you?" he asked calmly and shook his head. "What ever happened to me on Arnessk has nothing to do with you. So just forget about it, okay?"

"Wrong," she insisted, more quietly but still as tensely. "It has everything to do with me," she claimed, "and you need to understand that. You need to stop being such a frelling male and get some perspective on things. What Grayza did to you is frelling with your mind. You don't like to lose control and you did. You did something you would never normally do and it's eating you up inside. So why don't you just cut the dren and talk to me about it?"

"Tell me where you were," he countered.

"I can't," she stated. "I made a promise and that's all there is to it. I keep my promises."

"Did Scorpius do something to you?" he asked, having repeated that question about a dozen times by now.

"NO," she yelled. "Scorpius has nothing to do with this. The only thing he has to do with this is that he saved my frelling life. I don't know why and I don't frelling care. If he hadn't saved me, I would have been dead now. But maybe that's what you want? You want me to be dead so you can mourn some illusion you have of who I should be."

Her words were hurtful, obviously designed to hit him where it hurt the most, and for a moment, he couldn't think of a single thing to say to that. Then he shook his head almost in defeat. "No, I don't want you to be dead, Aeryn. I don't think I could handle it if you died."

"Then shut the frell up about Scorpius," she demanded, a little out of breath from all the anger. "What did Grayza do to you, huh? Whatever she did obviously changed something in you. You can't stand the thought of touching me right now, can you?" She stepped into him, driving him another step back and right into the wall. "Is that what this is? She raped you and now you can't stand the thought of physical contact?" Without hesitation, she pressed against him, causing him to press back against the wall to get away from the nearness.

It hit him like a ton of bricks that she was right. His internal turmoil was caused by what Grayza had done to him and not so much the fact that Aeryn hadn't been entirely forthcoming. He wanted to blame it on Scorpius, wanted to deny the fact that Aeryn's touch right now made him shudder inside, but he couldn't.

Suddenly he found it very hard to breathe, to concentrate on what to say or do. "Aeryn," he tried and made a move to push her away. But she wouldn't let herself be pushed. She grabbed his wrists and pushed his hands off her shoulders, her expression open yet tense.

"Are you going to let a Peacekeeper tralk get to you like that? Doesn't it take more to split us up?" she asked, her tone suddenly mellow and soft.

Something in her words made him regain his focus and he almost brutally shoved her away from him. "You split us up," he said harshly and shook his head. "You took off, not even giving it a chance. Don't blame this on me."

"This is not about blame, John," she said, spreading her arms in exasperation. "It's about us, you and me. I told you that there is no distinction between you and him in my mind any more. I love you, John. Not some specter of you. And I will not let something like this get between us."

"You don't trust me," he repeated, pushed away from the wall and walked over to the bed. There, he hesitated a moment, then sat down on it heavily, rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. "As long as you don't trust me, how can we have a relationship?"

"I do trust you, John," she countered and folded her arms over her chest. "But I keep my word as well. Trust me when I tell you that I would love to let you in on everything, but I can't. I gave my word. Maybe someday, when things have changed and everything has settled down I'll be able to tell you, to show you. But right now," she said and shook her head, "I just can't and you are going to have to accept that."

"Well, in that case I don't really think we have more to talk about," he said, saddened by his own words.

Before he could think of another thing to say, she had hunkered down in front of him and had pulled his hands away from his face. "Look into my eyes and tell me that you want it to be this way," she insisted. "Tell me that you want me to go away. Because if you do and if you can, then I will leave and you will never have to worry about me again."

Her eyes, deep and brown, stared relentlessly into his, but he saw tears in hers, knew that if he said what he felt he should say and not what he most wanted to say, she would do as she had said and that would be the end for him. Instead of making a decision, he remained silent and just stared at her.

The look in her eyes changed a little bit for every second that ticked by and something inside him broke. Finally, he closed his eyes and shook his head. "No," he said, "I don't want you to go away. I never wanted you to leave in the first place."

"Then talk to me, John. Tell me what you feel. Frell, kick the dren out of something if it makes you feel better. But don't question me about where I was. I cannot tell you and I will not tell you. Just know that it has nothing to do with you and it has nothing to do with Scorpius." To emphasis her words, she cupped a hand against his cheek.

John immediately felt the need to bolt. It was not a nice feeling, because it had nothing at all to do with Aeryn. He knew that now and it made the whole thing so much more intolerable. Leaning back, he disconnected himself from her touch and barely prevented himself from pushing her away.

What Aeryn did, however, was something he hadn't expected from her. Instead of leaving him be, she followed his movement and ended up straddling his knees as she leaned in over him. The by now ingrown dislike of physical contact caused him to lean back, away from her, until he could get no further and was lying down on the bed.

She was leaning in over him, one hand on either side of him, supporting herself a mere hand's breadth above him, and that alone made him deeply uncomfortable and a little panicky. "Aeryn, get off me," he said, his voice not entirely steady.

"And do you really think that would make it better if I did?" she asked while she stared into his eyes. "You have the choice here, John. You can decide to fight this and get on with your life or you can continue to live in fear."

Her words made sense but her nearness didn't. He had to fight himself to not push her off him and the struggle at this point was very uneven. He had no idea how to handle this, how to give in or give up, and a small voice in the back of his head insisted he should just roll with the punches and see where that took him.

With her hair hanging down over him, he slowly started to feel a certain amount of security. He felt closed off from prying eyes. Slowly, almost hesitantly, he slipped a hand up behind her head and edged her closer. She made no move to do anything unless he initiated it and that gave him courage to pull her closer still.

Somehow, he had expected the kiss to be as cold and clammy as when he had kissed that fairytale princess with the lisp in Stark's game, but this was totally different. It was warm, soft and yielding and it awoke a hunger in him that had been suspended when Grayza had forced herself on him; a hunger he had felt ever since his attraction to Aeryn had become a real, living thing.

Kissing her was real, feeling her body on top of him was real, and it chased away all the shadows and monsters hiding under the bed with a clarity and vividness that made his head spin.

Getting out of their clothes was something that took way too long and what followed after was later blurry and rather rushed in his mind. What mattered was the time after, the intimacy they shared just by lying naked under the covers, her head on his shoulder, her slow and steady breath, the silkiness of her hair, the vague scent of Zhaan's scented oils in his nose. She smelled like a rose, felt soft and yielding like the velvety petals of a rose, and all he could think was that this was what had been missing in his life; this was what had made him crazy while he had been here, on Moya, and she had been with the other him, on Talyn.

Harvey was gone, Grayza's hold on him had dissolved, and he suddenly found that he didn't give a rat's ass what Aeryn had done while she had been away. It didn't matter any more. All that mattered was this; their togetherness, the feeling of her body spooned against his, her slightly colder skin a stark contrast to his own hot, flushed skin. And all he could think was how stupid he had been. To hell with Scorpius, to hell with Grayza and all who came after her. He had finally regained what he had lost and the sense of belonging was all he needed now.