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

Rating: PC

Synopsis: A food-run turns into a life-threatening situation for John and Aeryn has to find a way to help since Zhaan is not on board.

Timeline: Season 1 AU


The search for, in Aeryn's words, essentials had turned out to be bountiful and they were on their way back to the pod, pushing through dense undergrowth in something that reminded John very much of a hardwood forest back home, each with a bag of various 'goodies'. The 'goodies' part was something D'Argo had picked up on and he essentially called anything undefinable but edible goodies. Or, in true D'Argo form, goods.

D'Argo lead on with Aeryn marching on behind him and John taking up the rear. There wasn't anything to be afraid of on this world. Pilot and Moya had scanned it before they had set down and it appeared that there was no intelligent life on this planet, much less dangerous predators. All in all, this place seemed like heaven to John and he would much have preferred to take a little vacation here. But of course his shipmates were in a hurry to go nowhere fast, so there was no time for leisure and John was a little fed up with the whole deal.

"Why do you think there are no sentient lifeforms on this world?" he asked, not expecting an answer.

"Because once they became sentient, they were smart enough to move away as soon as they could," Aeryn countered without looking back.

John sighed. "What's wrong with this world, then? I don't see anything wrong with it. Clean air, no noise pollution, nothing to be afraid of in general. I could stay here," he stated.

Aeryn didn't deign to answer that and D'Argo had either not heard him or chose to do the same as Aeryn.

"Fine, I'll just talk to myself then," he muttered and stepped over a fallen tree. When he put his weight on his right foot, he almost fell in the attempt to get off it again. "Ouch," he snapped and caught hold of a branch to steady himself.

Aeryn stopped and turned back to face him with a frown. "What happened?"

With a grunt, John dropped down on the tree trunk, pulled his foot up and inspected the underside of his boot before pulling a finger-lengthed spine out of the sole. He eyed it for a moment, then sighed and threw it aside. "I just stepped on a thorn," he informed Aeryn, who arched an eyebrow, turned away again and continued walking.

With a sigh borne of annoyance, John followed her. They had to hurry to catch up to D'Argo, who was already way ahead of them. Once again, the big guy hadn't noticed squat. John wondered how Luxans ever got anywhere, considering that they lacked the essential ability of alertness. But maybe that was only something D'Argo didn't have. Who knew?


Aboard Moya

After everything fresh and spoilable had been placed in the cooling unit and the rest had been stored away for a rainy day, they were off again. John stood in Command and watched that little paradise world dwindle in the distance while idly wondering when and if they would come across another little place like that.

Somewhat frustrated by his shipmates inability to pay attention to anything other than their own goals and needs, he brushed both hands through his hair, ruffled it and smoothed it out again. "Damn," he muttered. "Pilot. Is there anything that needs fixing today?" he asked.

Pilot's image appeared on the clamshell. "Not at the moment, Commander," he replied. "Did the supply run not go well?"

John couldn't help grinning. Leave it to Pilot to cheer him up when he was feeling moody. "Yeah, it went fine. I'm just a little restless. I could use a vacation or something," he said.

"Perhaps we can stay a little longer at the next stop," Pilot suggested.

"Yeah, maybe," John agreed with a grin and decided to go to the galley to get something to eat before turning in for the nightcycle.


Aeryn dropped down on her bed with a sigh and opened the straps on her boots before pulling them off and tossing them carelessly into a corner. She was too tired to do anything other than throw things.

At that, she noted a spine embedded in her pant leg. "Frell," she muttered and pulled it out. It looked like the one John had pulled out of his boot sole on that planet. She eyed it for a moment, then snapped it in half. "How the frell can something like this penetrate the sole of a boot?" she wondered aloud. The spine was nearly brittle and couldn't offer much protection for the plants it came from. With a frown, she turned the larger piece of it over between her fingers and then stopped short. Raising it up, she eyed it more closely. "Hollow?" she muttered. "Why the frell would spines on a tree be hollow?"

With a sigh, she discarded the spine, deciding there was no sense in worrying about it any further. They were away from that world and it was highly unlikely they would find their way back there again.

With the spine already forgotten again, she removed her belt and got out of her pants. A quick glance down herself – a mandatory self-inspection Peacekeepers were raised to do and which she found hard to quit – made her frown again. "What the frell?" she muttered.

Just above her right knee, the skin was burning red and slightly puffy. She prodded it lightly. It wasn't sore, just swollen, but it worried her nonetheless. This indicated a reaction to something she had come in contact with, but she couldn't remember getting in contact with anything. With a slight frown, she picked up her pants and examined the right leg. There was no immediate sign of anything foreign on it. Then her gaze shifted to the remains of the spine still lying on the floor where she had dropped them. "Hollow spine," she muttered and glanced down at her leg. "Allergic reaction?"

Fully aware of the consequences of leaving odd changes on her body untreated, she decided to go to the med bay to check this out. She just wanted to make sure this would not develop into something life-threatening.

With the remains of the spine and her pants in one hand, she made her way to the med bay and ran a scan of her leg first and foremost. For a moment, she stared at the readouts, at the analysis of what the scan had found, and had to decide right there and then that she had no frelling clue what she was looking at.

"Pilot," she called. "Could you tell me what the scanner just picked up? It's not making any sense to me."

Pilot's image appeared on the ever-present clamshell. "The scanner?" he asked.

"I have a spot on my leg that I don't like. It's hot, red and swollen. I just scanned it, but the data makes no sense to me," she explained.

"One moment," Pilot replied and glanced away. "You appear to have an allergic reaction to some kind of natural component," he then said. "Perhaps something you came in contact with on that world?"

Aeryn nodded with a slight frown still furrowing her brow. "Perhaps," she agreed and glanced at the broken spine. "I had some kind of ... spine stuck on my pants. I hadn't noticed it before. It's hollow. Perhaps it contained some kind of liquid?"

"It is possible. Place it in the scanner tray. I shall see what I can make of it," Pilot replied.

"Thank you, Pilot," she said and dropped the two pieces in the scanner tray.

"There is a bottle of liquid sitting just underneath the scanner. Please pour that over the piece," Pilot instructed her.

She did so and settled down to wait for the outcome.

"It appears to contain some kind of organic toxin," Pilot finally said. "I suggest you use some anti-inflammatory ointment on your leg after you wash it throughly. You do not want this to enter your system," he added.

Aeryn nodded and rose from the stool she had settled down on, ready to go do as he had told her, but then she froze. "Frell," she muttered, a dark look in her eyes.

"Is something wrong?" Pilot asked with concern in his voice.

"I think Crichton stepped on one of these spines," she replied. "If it broke the skin, he could have this toxin in his system now."


John rolled over on his back and draped one arm over his face only to remove it again moments later. With a light sigh, he opened his eyes and stared up at the amber ceiling above him. "Why the hell is it so hot in here?" he muttered and pushed himself up on his elbows. "Pilot, could you turn down the heat in this section? I'm basting in my own juices here," he called.

Before Pilot could answer, John heard running footsteps coming toward his quarters. He sat up fully, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and rose to see what was going on, but the moment his right foot made contact with the floor, he let out a yelp and almost toppled over.

To counter-balance himself so he didn't end up the floor, he dropped back down on the bed and pulled his foot up. But he didn't even need to turn it over to know that something was wrong. His whole foot was red and swollen and hot to the touch. What he couldn't understand was that he hadn't noticed this before.

Gingerly, he managed to twist his foot so he could inspect the sole and found that whatever that damn thorn had been, it had penetrated the skin right in the middle of his foot. The puncture mark was dark red and even more swollen than the rest. "Shit," he hissed. "What the hell ..."

Aeryn basically skittered to a halt halfway into his quarters, her expression tense. "Don't touch it," she demanded instantly.

John looked up at her with a frown. "Or what?" he asked.

"You may aggravate it," she tried, obviously on unfamiliar ground here.

"I stepped on a thorn and it got infected. Big deal. I just need to clean this out," he said and gingerly prodded the sore area around the puncture wound.

"No, you drannit," Aeryn countered and strode forward to remove his hand from his foot rather forcefully. "You stepped on a spine that contained an organic toxin. We need to find out how to stop it from spreading."

John stared at her. "Toxin?" he asked and glanced down at his foot. "You're telling me I've been poisoned?"

"Yes," she agreed and glanced around, found his belt and squatted down in front of him. With lithe fingers, she examined his leg to find out how far the toxin had spread, then wrapped the belt around his thigh just above the knee and tightened it. "Hold that," she instructed him and he did so without asking any questions. As of yet, he still had to fully realize the implications of what she had just said.

"Now what?" he asked.

Aeryn, who had been looking around for something or other, stopped short and gave him a frown for his trouble. "What the frell do you mean 'now what'? We have to find a way to stop this dren from spreading through you. It will probably kill you, you know."

A bit taken aback by her continued bluntness, John just stared at her. "Thanks for telling me," he said, his tone heavily sarcastic. "I really needed for you to throw that in my face right now."

She rolled her eyes and sighed, a sure sign that she was having second thoughts about helping him. "Shut the frell up. I'm trying to help you," she countered aggressively.

John made a face. "I know. Sorry," he replied and pulled the belt a little tighter. He was starting to feel the side-effects of this crap. He felt hotter than hell and his joints were beginning to ache lightly.

"Frell," Aeryn suddenly hissed. "I have no frelling clue what to do about this," she added. "Pilot?"

"Yes, Officer Sun?" the reply came instantly.

"How the frell do we handle this? I'm not a frelling medic," she shot, sounding angrier than John had ever heard her sound before.

"I suggest you get the Commander to the med bay. And tourniquet his leg," Pilot said.

"I already did that. The tourniquet part," Aeryn countered gruffly. "Do we have anything that can stop the spread of this dren?"

"Not off hand," Pilot replied.

"Unless the Nasthin cleansing pills would be effective against this sort of thing," Aeryn said thoughtfully. "It's worth a try," she added and held a hand out to John. "Come on, get up. We need to get you to the med bay."


Aeryn was frantic to find a cure and at first she couldn't for the life of her understand why. She found Crichton irritating to the extreme most of the time. He appeared useless and soft to her in many ways, but she also felt that she was getting used to him. And he was a crew member. She had been bombarded with the need to keep her crew together and alive since early childhood and found it impossible to not care about this frelling Human.

Being none too careful about it, she deposited him on the examination table and pulled his leg up on the table as well. Under the relentless glare of the light overhead, she again examined his leg to see if the poison had spread further than she had assumed.

"Could you be a little more careful?" he admonished her through clenched teeth when she prodded the sole of his foot. When she didn't cease, he yanked his foot out of her hand. "Aeryn, give me a break, okay? That hurts!"

She gave him a dark look. "You have a severe poisoning in your leg, Crichton. You want it to spread so it can kill you? Stop being such a frelling infant," she countered, grabbed his ankle in a harsh grip and pulled his foot forward again. "Now, hold still," she demanded.

After a moment, she stopped prodding his foot and lowered it down on the examination table before releasing his ankle again. She continued to stare at his foot for a moment, then raised her eyes and met his. He didn't look so good. He was pale as a Nebari, sweaty and had a set expression on his face.

"What?" he asked.

"Under normal circumstances, we would wait for a medic to turn up," she stated and made a face. "But since we have no medic and Zhaan is not onboard, I will have to deal with this the best I can. Judging by the way you look right now, I'd say that some of the toxin has already spread further than your leg. I have no way of knowing how this will affect you, but I think it would be safer to try and stop the spread as efficiently as I know how."

He kept staring at her with that frown furrowing his brow. "And ... how you propose to do that?" he asked.

"By diluting the toxin in your leg and giving you Nashtin cleansing pills for the rest," she countered, grabbed a tin and pulled the lid off it. "Start by taking two," she said and held it out to him. "If they show no effect, you'll have to take more."

"Okay," he agreed and took two of the transparent yellow pills. He popped them in his mouth and dry-swallowed them. "Right, so now what? How are you going to dilute the toxin?"

"Simple," she said and grabbed a scalpel off the instrument tray.

Crichton's eyes widened when he obviously realized what she had in mind. Before she could make a move to carry out her plan, he yanked his foot away from her and pushed himself backward until he hit the end of the examination table and nearly fell off it. "Na-ah," he said and shook his head without taking his eyes off the scalpel. "You are not a doctor. You are not touching my foot with that."

"Stop being so frelling weak," she admonished him and stepped closer.

"Weak? This has nothing to do with being weak," he claimed and pulled his foot out of her reach by slipping it over the edge of the table. "What if you hit an artery? I could bleed to death in moments here."

"I'll be careful," she said, irritated now, then narrowed her eyes a little. "I already told you what can happen. You want to die?"

"No, I do not want to die. That's why I don't want you messing with my foot, Aeryn. Okay? No offence. I know you're trying to help. But I'm not happy about this," he countered.


"What is going on here?"

D'Argo strode into the med bay, looking every bit as tired as John felt right now, but still alert. "Oh, nothing. Ms-Tough-Chick-Of-The-Universe here just wants to cut my foot open because I have blood poisoning," John countered, hoping to at least get some support from the Luxan.

D'Argo glanced at his foot when he pulled it back up on the table and hissed. "That does not look good, John," he said with a sympathetic look in his eyes. "Perhaps you should allow her to help you?"

"Help me? For all I know, she's going to kill me," John countered. He knew he was being unfair, that Aeryn was only trying to help him, but he didn't like knives much in connection with his extremities; especially not a knife in the hands of an insensitive female like her.

D'Argo glanced at Aeryn, folded his arms over his chest, and eyed her. "Are you going to kill him?" he asked, making a mockery of John's fear.

Aeryn made a face. "I had not intended to before, but I'm beginning to change my mind," she countered and gave John a nasty look.

"See? What did I say," John shot back, waving a hand at her.

"Look, Crichton, I am not going to kill you, all right? I am trying to help you," she tried again, but when he didn't relent immediately, she slapped the scalpel back down on the tray and brushed her hands off on her thighs. "Fine. You don't want my help? Then you can just frelling die from the poisoning. One less mouth to feed," she added angrily and started toward the exit.

D'Argo grabbed her by the shoulders, stopping her dead in her tracks. "Obviously, John does not know what he wants right now," he said.

"What the frell do I care? He is as obnoxious about this as he is about everything else," she snarled.

"You do care," D'Argo claimed and pushed her back a step. Then he turned his attention to John. "As for you, you need the help. So stop being such a fekkik and let her do what needs to be done."

John briefly closed his eyes, let out a huffed sigh, and then nodded. "Okay, fine, but you better be careful," he finally said.

"I'm always careful," Aeryn claimed and glanced around. She found a bottle of some kind of fluid which she poured over his foot in ample amount, obviously in an attempt to clean the wound. Then she poured some of it over the knife blade and glanced at D'Argo. "Can you hold his foot so he doesn't jerk?"

"Hey! Ho! Wait," John exclaimed, not liking the sound of that at all. "You're gonna do this without sedatives?" He tried briefly to pull his foot out of D'Argo's grip, but the Luxan was far superior in strength and did not let go.

"We don't have any sedatives," Aeryn stated and eyed him. "That's what Zhaan was going to pick up."

"Zhaan!" John said and pointed a finger at her. "We'll wait for Zhaan. Zhaan knows what to do. She's the closest thing we have to a doctor." He knew he was stalling, knew he was dragging things out, and that it probably wasn't in his best interest to keep that up, but the thought of having a hard-handed soldier like Aeryn cutting into his already tender foot was not number one on his wish list. As it were, he would rather she didn't do it at all.

"We cannot wait for Zhaan," D'Argo stated. "We are at least two solardays away from where she is right now. You could die or become seriously ill before we get that far," he added.

"I'll take my chances," John assured him.

"No, you won't," Aeryn countered, grabbed his foot harshly and pushed it back as far as it would go.

"Ow," he yelped. "You're breaking my damn foot," he snapped when she didn't release her harsh hold.

Aeryn sighed and met his eyes again. "Just try to hold still. It will be over fast. I promise," she said calmly.

He looked into her eyes and saw nothing but sincerity there. With a slight nod, he clenched his teeth together in anticipation of the pain that was sure to follow, and was a little surprised when he didn't feel much more agony than what he was experiencing already when she made a clean, swift cut through the center of the puncture wound.

Blood started oozing from the wound; not in the pulsing way he had feared, but in a slow, steady trickle. Aeryn poured more of that fluid over the wound and let it bleed for a moment. Then she pressed a wad of fabric against it to stop the flow and that hurt. He hissed through clenched teeth and couldn't help the involuntary jerk, trying to pull his foot away from the offensive treatment; an act which gave Aeryn ample opportunity to send him an annoyed glare.

She cleaned out the wound and was more rough about it than necessary in his opinion. Then she bandaged his foot inspected his leg once more. "The redness has not receded," she stated with slight annoyance. "Take some more Nashtin pills," she added and offered him the tin again.

A little out of breath and feeling a little dizzy, John stared at the assembly of pills, then raised his gaze to meet hers. "How many of them am I allowed to take?" he asked, his tone none too steady.

"There is no limit," she countered. "Take a few. They can only make you feel better."

John took two more, hesitated briefly, then grabbed two extra pills and dry-swallowed all of them in one go. He felt a little bit queasy and attributed that to the fact that he had an unknown toxin in his body and also to the pain now throbbing through his foot.