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

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: John may be unique in the Uncharted Territories, but it's not always him the bad guys go after.

 "Ribs. It's a question of how you prepare them, of course, but nobody in the universe makes ribs like my dad. He's got this sauce he whips up that's to die for." John closed his eyes and leaned his head back against Aeryn's thigh. "Man, I would kill for some ribs right now," he added, almost able to taste them. "The smell, the taste, the whole deal. Sunday picnics. Mom's apple pie."

Aeryn traced a finger from his hip to his knee, making him shudder lightly. "Don't drive yourself crazy with those memories, John," she said and ran her palm back up his thigh. "Maybe you can make some new memories out here? Things you wouldn't want to do without any more?"

He chuckled and caught her hand before she could run it back down his thigh and drive him crazy with desire. "I already have. There are just some things that are hard to let go of," he countered, shifted around and planted a kiss on her thigh. "Like you. You're one of those new memories and you're impossible to let go of."

"Does that mean you wouldn't go back to Earth without me? Even for ribs?" she asked with a crooked grin on her lips.

"Not in a million years," he confirmed seriously, but couldn't stop grinning like a goon. "You, me and little D. Hell, I'd drag Pip along too if she wanted to come."

"She'd have her pick down there. Innocent young boys she could seduce," Aeryn agreed and started chewing on her lower lip. "Frell, I'm hungry," she added.

John sighed and rested his cheek on her thigh. "Me too. I think it's about time we find something to eat. Stores are running low and Rygel is hoarding food already."

Aeryn chuckled. "You can always tell by him when it's time to find new supplies," she said and pushed herself up. "It won't be long before Dargo starts making noise, so we'd better get a move on."

John sat up reluctantly. Mornings like these were a luxury and he wanted them to last as long as they could. But Aeryn was right. It was time to get cracking. They needed food and by their standards, they'd be out of it and far into starvation before they found a commerce planet that had anything decent to offer.

True to form, they had barely set their feet on the floor before their infant son started to stir. John picked him up from the makeshift cradle Aeryn had found somewhere and eyed him for a moment. "What are you making noise about, huh? You hungry?" he cooed while Dargo started wailing as if his father's words had been a cue. "Yeah, me too," John agreed and handed the boy over to his mother.

Aeryn settled down on the edge of the bed with him and put him to her breast. John went about getting dressed while trying to keep his wife and son in his line of view as much as he could. There was no end to his fascination with Dargo's feeding process. And, despite everything he'd ever heard about that, it had nothing sexual about it. Especially not this morning, because his attention was completely on his son.

He pulled his t-shirt over his head and then frowned down at his infant son. "Am I imagining things or is he bigger than yesterday?" he asked and sat down on the edge of the bed next to Aeryn.

She glanced at him. "That's possible," she stated, her tone indicating that she thought it was an odd question. "Isn't he supposed to grow?"

"Sure he is," John countered, his eyes still on the feeding baby. "But not that fast. How long exactly does it take for a Sebacean child to grow up?"

Aeryn arched an eyebrow. "There's a difference between Sebacean children and Peacekeeper children," she said. "Peacekeeper children grow up faster."

"How much faster?" John asked and finally looked up to meet her eyes. "Human kids are fully grown somewhere between 16 and 18."

Aeryn shrugged lightly. "Peacekeeper children are fully grown at around 7-8 cycles. I was slower than the rest, though. I wasn't fully grown until I was 10 cycles old."

John let himself drop back on the bed and draped an arm over his face. "Which means this guy's gonna be up and running around soon, eh?" he asked into the crook of his elbow.

"That's the idea, isn't it?" Aeryn asked and shifted her hungry son over to the other breast.

With a sigh, John let his arm slide off his face and eyed her back for a moment. Then he sat up and brushed her long hair off her shoulder and started fiddling with a strand. "Yeah, I guess," he agreed. "Do Peacekeepers breastfeed their kids?"

Aeryn chuckled. "You are so frelling full of questions today, aren't you?" she countered. "No. Peacekeepers never see their children. They give birth and go back to active duty. New mothers are given drugs to suppress the milk production."

"Nice," he muttered and leaned in to kiss her shoulder. "You didn't have any kids before we met, did you?"

She shook her head lightly. "No, I was never selected for breeding duty. In part I think my mother was to blame for that; for what she and my father did."

"Bummer." He pushed her hair aside and kissed her neck, making her tilt her head to the left a little. "But hey, you got your chance now. Little D is one hundred and ten percent dependent on you right now."

"Yes, I know," she agreed and glanced at him. "What is it with you today?"

"I'm jealous. He's stealing all your time away," he claimed and grinned. "Nah, just kidding. There's just something so totally homy about watching you feed him. It's like a calm spot in the middle of a storm."

"What are you talking about? It's been quiet out there ever since you showed off three monans ago," Aeryn countered with a light snort.

"I didn't show off," he grumbled. "I did what I had to do. Believe me, I would have preferred not to do it."

"Yes, John, I know that. I was only kidding," she interrupted. "Don't take it so seriously. It's in the past. You've lost the ability to create wormhole weapons and the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers are keeping each other at bay. It all worked out for the best."

"Right you are," he agreed and sat up straight. "Is he about done? I really am starving and he must take a toll on you every time he sucks you dry," he added.

Aeryn laughed and elbowed him in the side. "He does not suck me dry," she stated sternly, but then smiled again. "But I am hungry."

John leaned in over his son and traced a fingertip over the soft skin of his cheek. "What do you say, buddy? Wanna give mom some time to eat here?" he asked and took the infant so Aeryn could get dressed. "You are gonna be a big boy, aren't you?" he questioned his son and grinned when the baby grabbed his finger in a fierce grasp. "He's gonna be a strong one."

"He already is," Aeryn agreed and zipped up her vest before sticking her feet into her boots and tightening the buckles.

"You ready?" John asked and got up.

"Let's go," she agreed and left it to John to carry the boy.

She was a hell of a mom, his Aeryn, but she wasn't afraid to let go either. She wasn't one of those overprotective moms he had known so many off in his life. One thing he knew for sure was that little Dargo wouldn't be a cuddled child. He would grow up strong and proud, the soul of a warrior.


Aeryn studied the display in Command while eating a foodcube, the last of their reserves. They had to find a commerce planet soon or they'd starve and she only too clearly remembered what had happened the last time they'd been in this position. Granted, they did not have a Delvian among them any more who might bud and spread spores all over the place from hunger, but she still did not like the implications of having to go to bed on an empty stomach. She needed to keep her strength up for her son as long as he was feeding of her.

"How about there?" she asked and pointed at a potential world.

Pilot, who was trying to help her find an appropriate world, watched from the clamshell. "Perhaps, but it is over a weeken away," he countered. "There is one commerce planet that is much closer," he added and one of the tiny worlds lit up. "It is about three arns from our present position if Moya starbursts there."

"Well, that settles it, doesn't it?" Aeryn countered with a faint smile. "I hope they have Tella fruit there. I have a craving for it right now," she added almost thoughtfully.

"That is natural. Tella fruit is rich in the nutrients that you are sharing with your child right now," Pilot replied.

Aeryn's smile widened. Pilot was very wise in many areas and knew more about childcare than she had ever had the inclination to learn. After all, while she had been a Peacekeeper, such issues had not really interested her at all. If she had been selected for breeding duty, she would never have even held the child, nor possibly even seen it.

That thought wiped the smile from her lips and she turned toward the doorway. "John?" she called.

"Yup?" came the reply instantly. She could hear Dargo gurgling in the background.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"Maintenance bay. Looking for a spanner. Why?" John replied. He sounded absentminded.

"Because I need to hold my son right now," she countered and started out the door. But then she remembered her conversation with Pilot and glanced back at the clamshell. "Let's go to that commerce planet, Pilot. As fast as we can."

"Yes, Aeryn," Pilot replied and then his image switched off.

Without another thought, Aeryn rushed to the maintenance bay and found John rummaging around in the tool boxes for that spanner while Dargo was situated on the floor in a pile of blankets. The baby was watching his pudgy little fingers intently while he was blabbering to himself.

Aeryn grinned and picked him up. "What are you doing, huh?" she whispered and cradled him to her. "Have you discovered your hands?"

Dargo kept wiggling his fingers and turning his hands back and forth, not paying much attention to his mother, but Aeryn had found that she could spend arns just watching him discover the world around him. At times she couldn't wait for him to become mobile so she could follow him around and see how he discovered everything around him.

"Where the hell is that damned spanner?" John grumbled and dropped a handful of tools he had picked up to check underneath.

The sound they made caught Dargo's attention instantly and he turned his head to stare almost balefully at his father. Aeryn couldn't stop herself from laughing out loud. "You will have your hands full when this one starts to speak," she claimed and adjusted Dargo's position so he could watch his father better.

John made a face, but then grinned. "Yeah, he'll be talking twice as much as his old man," he agreed and winked at the baby.

Dargo instantly lost interest in him again and started gurgling again while watching his hands. Aeryn settled down on the edge of the worktable and watched him discover his fingers. Only after a while did she realize that John was watching her in turn with a slight smile on his lips. "What?" she asked and glanced up at him.

"Look at you," he said and there was that odd tone to his voice again. "The best mom in the universe," he added and smirked. "Who'd have thunk?"

She returned his smirk. "By the way, Pilot found us a commerce planet. We will be there soon. A couple of arns," she said and then realized that Moya had not initiated starburst yet. "Actually, we were supposed to be halfway there by now," she added.

John glanced up at the ceiling. "Pilot?" he called.

"Yes, Commander?" Pilot replied instantly, his voice sounding tiny from the comm badge pinned to John's t-shirt.

"What's doing? Aren't we supposed to go get some chow right around now?" John asked.

Aeryn frowned at him, but Pilot apparently understood what he had just said. "Moya needs a little time to warm up. She tells me that she is feeling a little sluggish today," Pilot replied.

John sent Aeryn an alarmed look to which she could only shrug. "Nothing wrong, I hope?" John asked.

"No, not at all," Pilot assured them and did sound sincere.

"Whatever you say, Pilot. You the man," John countered and shrugged back at Aeryn. "She's just a little sluggish today," he repeated Pilot's words.

"She's a living being. She's entitled to have off days just as much as you are," Aeryn countered. "We'll leave the little guy with Chiana when we go down. I don't want him to catch anything on a strange planet," she added and allowed Dargo to pull her little finger into his mouth, which he started chomping away at quite happily.

"You're the mom, mom," John replied, leaned in to peck her on the cheek and then went about his business of searching for that spanner again.


Once the commerce planet was in reach, Aeryn and John were as ready as they could to get going. Chiana was in the center chamber with little D and Rygel, who apparently considered the boy his responsibility whenever neither of his parents were around.

John rechecked his pulsepistol for the umpteenth time, a habit he had no intention of losing, then clicked it into place at his thigh and gave Aeryn a look. "Ready?" he asked.

She just stood there, arms folded over her chest, while she watched him. "I was ready half an arn ago. Are you ready?" she countered and gave him the once over.

John chuckled. "Yeah, I'm ready. Let's go shopping," he said and made a sweeping gesture toward the pod. "After you, milady."

Aeryn rolled her eyes, shook her head lightly and strode over to the pod, followed closely by John who was feeling a bit frisky at this point. When she climbed the steps to the pod, he playfully slapped her behind, which earned him an equally playful, yet somewhat harder boot in the chest.

"Ow," he yelped and rubbed the pretended sore spot on his chest. "I'm just trying to lighten the mood here. You don't have to kick me for it."

Aeryn merely laughed and disappeared from view on her way to the cockpit.

John closed and sealed the hatch, double-checked it was really sealed, and then followed her. Ever since he'd become a father, he paid much more attention to the details that might take him away from his son; especially when he and Aeryn were both leaving little D behind.

The engine was already whining to life when he reached the cockpit and dropped down on the seat next to Aeryn. She was steering and there was no way in hell that he would be able to persuade her otherwise. "Steady as she goes," he said instead and settled himself more comfortably.

"You know, if you keep spouting dren like that I may have to reconsider that yes," Aeryn said with an evil grin.

"What dren? What are you talking about? I'm making conversation here," he countered in a pretend-hurt tone.

All Aeryn could obviously think of doing was continue smiling. "You are so full of it sometimes, you know that?" she asked after a moment.

"Yeah, I know," he agreed in a suffering tone of voice that made her lash out at him playfully. He barely managed to avoid the attack. "Hey, hey, hey. Have a little compassion for the dumb human."

"You are not as dumb as you want others to believe, John," she said and her tone was serious enough to make him drop the routine. "If you had been as dumb as I initially thought you were, you would have died within the first cycle out here."

He arched an eyebrow at her confession. "Well, I think I can attribute many of my survival skills to you. Considering that you've saved my ass a few times, I mean."

She glanced over at him and her expression was not what he had expected. She looked concerned, a little sad for some reason. "I doubt most of the Sebaceans I've known throughout my life would have managed to survive the Aurora chair without losing their minds."

They just stared at each other for a moment, then Aeryn returned her attention to flying the pod, but John continued to stare at her for a moment longer. One thing he had learned very quickly about her was that she would never say something like that if she didn't mean it. It definitely stroked his ego, but he was also a little bit awed by the fact that she was willing to say it out loud.

Something made her snort. "I remember telling Crais about our rescue mission. He was ... derisive about it, suggested I take a bucket with me so I could scoop up the remains in it. And that was only after four arns," she said while keeping her eyes on the viewscreen. "When I finally managed to get that frelling door open to your cell, I must admit that I was somewhat ... awed by the fact that you were even able to move. I know that you would not have been any good to Scorpius if you had died, but ... all things considered ... Crais went in the chair himself and he was a blubbering mess when I caught up with him. And that was only half an arn into the treatment."

John fought the need to smile viciously at her words. Not because Crais had been forced to go through the same thing as he had, but more because Crais had broken down a lot faster than he had. "Guess I'm not so feeble after all, huh?" he asked and picked idly at his pants for a moment.

"If there is one thing you are not, John, then it's feeble," she countered. "You're frelling fahrbot. No question about that. But you are neither weak nor a coward. And anyone who claims that will have to deal with me."

His smile turned a little rueful. "I wish you could tell my dad that," he said quietly.

"Why?" she asked and glanced at him.

"Because I could never be the man he wanted me to be. I ... don't think he was ever proud of me." He had no idea where this came from, only that he felt it was true. No matter what his father had told him when he'd seen him last, he didn't believe his father was proud of him and he suddenly needed to share this with Aeryn.

"Your father is more proud of you than you know, John. I didn't get to know him as well as I wanted to, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is proud of you. Every word he said, his tone whenever he spoke of you, proved that. I have never been more sure of anything in my life," she countered.

He smiled vaguely, then shook his head lightly. "Damn, I'm depressing right now, aren't I?" he asked and she nodded with a smile. "What are we getting down there? Tella fruit? Foodcubes?" The last he said in a suffering tone.

"We need them for emergencies, yes," she agreed. "But we need to get a lot of other dren too. Fresh food. Not all that dried dren."

John grinned. This was one of the many things he loved her to death for. When he changed the topic to avoid a painful subject, she went along with it as long as it wasn't something that concerned their relationship. She was tougher than nails if he tried to avoid talking about that, but everything else was over and done with and she never returned to that subject either. "Yeah, who'd want to eat dren," he countered and chuckled when she lashed out at him again, barely avoiding his shoulder.

"As I said. You are frelling fahrbot, John Crichton," she stated.

"Yeah. That's why you love me," he countered, leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. "Although I must admit that I sincerely hope you like other things about me as well."

Her eyes narrowed and she grinned dangerously. "I could make a list," she suggested.

He laughed and dropped back into his seat. "Better not. Someone might find it and think we were perverts."


The commerce planet was not exactly teeming with activity, but there were plenty of people about. John, as usual, paid the state of things fairly little attention, but Aeryn was very aware of the odd silence and definite nervousness of the people mulling around the food square next to the space port.

She stopped at a booth with fresh fruits and looked them over for a microt, then turned her attention to her surroundings. John was watching a booth full of crawling things that even Aeryn couldn't identify, but he seemed neither nervous nor on guard, which told her that he had not noticed the lack of shoppers.

"John," she called and waved him over when he turned to look at her. He pushed past a tight cluster of females hurriedly making their way toward the edge of the square.

"What's up?" he asked and instantly turned his attention to the fruit. "Ah, Tella fruit," he added. "How much do you need?"

She grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her. "Have you noticed anything odd?" she asked.

His expression was one of surprise, which shifted to worry and then watchfulness. She wished she didn't have to awaken that watchfulness in him every time they made landfall, but it was obviously necessary once again. "Odd? Like what?" he asked and sent a quick look around.

"There are not half as many shoppers here as there should be," she stated.

That made him frown. "There seem to be plenty to me," he countered somewhat doubtfully. "What do you think's going on?"

"I don't know. But there is definitely something going on. We need to be attentive here," she admonished and he nodded.

"Let's grab what we need and get back to Moya," he said, sent another look around and went in search of other items on their list.

Aeryn managed to gather most of the things she had decided to go for when there was a shift in the atmosphere on the food square. She glanced around and noted that many shoppers were hurrying toward the outskirts of the square. A second glance told her that the majority of them were female. And then the sound became audible. John's hearing was not as good as hers and he wouldn't hear it until it grew in strength, so she decided to find him instead of counting on that he would follow the example of the others and seek shelter.

Before she had a chance to do so, though, she realized what was making that sound. It sounded mostly like a static wave washing in over the square from the far side and when she turned her attention in that direction, the screams began. A black wave seemed to be washing over the shoppers too tardy to seek shelter and it took only a microt for Aeryn to realize that this wave consisted of a multitude of insect-like man-sized creatures that rushed into the square from the alleys leading away from it. And they were climbing everything that could be climbed. "What the frell?" she muttered and took a step back. Even if she would have been inclined to draw her weapon and make a stand, there was no way in Hezmana that she would be able to make more than a minor dent in that moving wall of insects. "Frell this," she hissed, swirled around and ran for it.

While she ran, she kept an eye out for John and spotted him ahead of her, near one of the alleys, watching for her. When he saw her, the relief in his expression was almost touchable. "RUN!" she yelled. "GET THE FRELL AWAY FROM THE SQUARE!"

But he didn't move until she reached him. "Let's find a place to hide. Those bugs aren't going to stop to ask questions," he yelled over the din of the approaching bugs and the screams of those that were attacked by them.

Aeryn nodded and gave him a push forward. Her greatest fear right now was that he couldn't outrun them. Even though he had improved his stamina considerably since arriving in the Uncharted Territories, he was still far from Peacekeeper standard and wouldn't be able to keep up with her for long.

To make certain she didn't lose him in the commotion, she grabbed his hand, wove her fingers into his and started running. And true to form she was soon dragging him along while she sprinted away from the screeching and screaming behind them.