A Place in the Heart of Hades

A Place in the Heart of Hades
1,004 words

Hades, God of the Underworld, traveled to the cave of Echidna, the mother of monsters. He didn’t want to go, but he’d been summoned to Olympus by his younger brother, Zeus, who was starting to believe his own boasts that he was king of the gods. He was pretty sure Zeus had rigged the lots which gave Zeus the sky, Poseidon the sea, and left him with the land of the dead, but it couldn’t be proven. Now, here he was, being treated as a human king’s messenger – no, worse than that, as an assassin.

“Echidna has borne another child to Typhon,” Zeus had said to him. Hades knew that Zeus was scared of Typhon, the deadliest thing in creation. Zeus worried that Typhon’s children could someday pose a threat to Olympus. “Echidna’s first child now guards of the cattle of one of the last giants. See to it that Echidna’s second child is in the underworld by sundown. I don’t want it to serve our enemies.”

Hades shook his head. “Our enemies.” A pitiful attempt to make Hades want to kill an infant cousin. Still, Zeus might not be all-powerful, but he was stronger than Hades. So he let himself be sent.

Arriving at Echidna’s cave, he paused outside. It was rumored that she never left her lair. Typhon was not around, for which Hades thanked the Fates. Even gods can die, and although dying would only secure his place as the absolute ruler of his realm, living had its benefits as well.

“Echidna!” he called in the stentorian tones of a king addressing an enemy fortification. “Hades awaits you outside!”

There was no answer at first, then a bundle of fur emerged from the cave. It was clearly still very young, although the size of a full grown hunting hound. It was furry, with three heads in front and a serpent for a tail, and it was the most wondrous thing Hades had ever seen (his first view of Persephone being yet some decades in the future). It spotted Hades and, at first, couldn’t decide how to respond. The left head growled, the right one ignored him, and the head in the center yipped and opened its mouth in a joyful, panting greeting. The serpent tail watched him carefully.

“Hello, little one,” Hades said as he knelt, his voice calmed to low tones so as not to startle the creature.

It approached him cautiously but curiously. The death god let the three-headed hound sniff him, the serpent tail tasting him with its tongue. After a moment, the hound apparently decided he was a friend and put its paws on Hades chest and licked him with all three dog tongues.

Hades laughed, a low chuckle seldom heard. “So, you are the mighty beast Zeus so fears that he sent the God of the Underworld to kill you?”

The hound jerked back at that.

“Oh, so you understand me? Be at peace, little one.”

“His name is Cerberus, death god,” came a voice from the mouth of the cave. Hades looked up and saw Echidna, gliding forward on the serpent half of her body, her human upper half trying with difficulty to remain calm. “Give him back.” Her voice cracked as she added, “Please.”

“Cerberus,” Hades repeated, tasting the resonance of the name the way he considered the final fate of the souls sent to him. At the mention of his name, the hound looked up at Hades. “How would you like to come with me, Cerberus?”

The hound barked twice from each of his heads, a resounding affirmation. “No!” Echidna cried. “I won’t let you kill him! I’ll call Typhon and we’ll tear down Olympus itself!”

“Calm yourself,” Hades commanded, his voice reverberating with the subharmonics used to pacify souls who panicked when brought for judgment.

Echidna stilled under the compulsion of that dread voice.

Hades smiled, a thing so seldom seen that it often instilled fear rather than peace. “Zeus only said your child had to be in my realm by sundown. He never said to kill him.”

“Surely, that’s what he meant. Zeus is cruel that way.”

“But he didn’t say it,” Hades replied. “Your first-born, Orthrus, guards mere cows. I will take your second-born to serve me and guard my gates.” He turned to the hound and said, “That is, if you want to, Cerberus. I will give you a place at my side and a job to do.”

Cerberus looked at the god, then put its heads under Hades’ hands.

Hades laughed for the second time that day. “Yes, and skritches behind the ears when you want them.” He looked up at Echidna. “What do you say, Echidna?”

“Young though he is, it is his choice. If Cerberus will go with you, I will not stop him.”

“Then say goodbye to your mother, Cerberus. It may be long before you see her again.”

Cerberus bounded over to Echidna and snuggled up against her. She coiled herself around her child one last time.

“Cerberus, come!” Hades called. Cerberus looked up at his master’s voice and ran to him. “Fare well, Echidna. I thank you for my companion.” The two of them left together.

Some time later, Zeus flew down to the gates of Hades but found the gates guarded by Cerberus, who growled at him. Zeus raised a lightning bolt.

“My brother,” Hades said, appearing suddenly, “surely, you don’t think to interfere in my realm, do you? Lower your hand.”

“I told you to kill this monster,” Zeus said, coming right up to the gates.

“No, you told me to bring him to the underworld. I have done so.”

Zeus wanted to argue but he knew he was beaten by his own words. As he turned to go, he felt a wetness on his feet. He looked down and saw Cerberus lowering its hind leg. His face twisted in a futile rage, Zeus glared at Cerberus and Hades, then disappeared.

Hades laughed and skritched behind Cerberus’ six ears. “Good dog.”

– 30 –

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Matchbox vs. Hot Wheels?

This was my favorite Matchbox car as a kid (not the actual car, just an image found online).

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Riddle Me This

The RIddle-Master of Hed.

Which cover would you pick up?

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Book Image

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Fan Fic: Farscape: Somebody’s Out There

TITLE:  Somebody’s Out There

John Crichton wandered the leviathan’s corridors in a reflective mood.  As near as he could tell, it had been a full year since he had taken the Farscape 1 into orbit around the Earth … and then into the stars.  To say the least, it had not been an easy year.  Still, he had adjusted, more or less.  Every once in a while, some activity or fact that was “common knowledge” to everyone else on Moya would cause him to screw up, but those errors were becoming fewer and further between … now.  And the occasional jibe tossed his way by the others on the ship didn’t bother him any more.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true.  There was one member of the crew whose insults bothered him more than he really cared to think about.  She was also the only member of the crew who was here *because* of him.


He found himself walking along the corridor where Aeryn’s quarters were located.  Realizing this, he hoped she wasn’t there.  As he neared the doorway, he saw her working on her pulse rifle, her back to the door.  Idly, he wondered how long it had taken before she felt safe enough on the ship to leave her back to an open doorway … to trust the others on board.  He paused, wanting to say something to her, but then walked away silently.  He wondered if she still blamed him for everything that had happened to her.

//Is it fate, or random chance? How can I decide?

Are we victims of circumstance when destinies collide?//

* * *

Aeryn Sun had heard Crichton’s approach but remained as she was, cleaning her weapon.  In the mirror set against the far wall, she saw him pause in the doorway.  She wondered if he was going to speak to her or enter her room.  When he walked away, she didn’t know if she was more relieved or disappointed.

In the past cycle, she had taken his words to heart.  “You can be more,” he had said to her, so long ago.  It had taken a long time, but she no longer blindly followed the lessons she had learned as a PeaceKeeper commando.  She was still a warrior, but no longer a soldier.  As such, she knew that she must choose her own path.  John had taught her that.

When she thought of it, she had to shake her head in amazement.  He was so naïve about so many things, completely lacking in the skills to survive an ordinary life in the galaxy, let alone the skills to survive life as a fugitive from the PeaceKeepers.  And yet, he was touched by a wisdom that belied his years.  And his own tech skills, primitive as they were, had saved the lives of everyone on Moya more than once.

Aeryn caught herself smiling.  She tried to cultivate her mask of indifference again … tried to focus on cleaning a weapon that was already in perfect condition, but her thoughts kept drifting back to the most bizarre creature she had ever encountered.  And she smiled.

//All the odds are against you, but somehow you make it through.

You can rationalize it away, but it all comes down to you.//

* * *

Crichton ate his food cubes in silence, alone.  In spite of their occasional feasts, most of Moya’s inhabitants ate according to their own bodies’ clocks and rarely showed up for meals at the same time.  It was good, in a way, he supposed.  This way, there would always be someone able to stand watch in Command.  But there were times when he missed the crowds … the lunchtime rush … waiting for half an hour to be seated at a restaurant … cafeterias full of Air Force personnel.

Finishing his food cubes, the brittle brown wafers this time, he walked to Command.

“Anything to report, Zhaan?”

“Nothing, John,” the Delvian replied.  “We’re still three days from the commerce planet and there’s been no sign of a PeaceKeeper ship for weekens.”  She gave a questioning look to him as she added, “I rather like these quiet times.  Don’t you?”

“What?” Crichton asked, startled out of his own thought.  “Oh … yeah … quiet is good.”

Zhaan smiled and said, “You seem troubled.  Would you like me to come to your quarters later so we can talk?”

“No.  That’s okay.  I think I’ll go to sleep early.  I need to do a check on Moya’s systems tomorrow … y’know, make sure everything’s working fine for her and the baby before we arrive at the commerce planet.”

“Of course,” Zhaan replied, not believing a word of it.  “Pleasant dreams.”

As Crichton walked back to his quarters, he tried to analyze himself.  The truth was, he’d actually like a little action.  He knew it was crazy, but being alone on this huge ship, with nothing to do except the occasional systems check or watch in Command, was getting to him.  Of course, he wasn’t *really* alone, but the others were … what?

He and D’Argo had worked out an understanding with each other months ago: comrades and crewmates, not friends.  Chiana still made the occasional play for him, but that was more out of habit than any hope of success.  He liked the little thief, but she had little use for anyone she couldn’t con, argue with or piss off, and he rarely had any use for her mind games.  Zhaan was … Zhaan.  She seemed to be completely past her dark episode, but the memory of the pain she had caused and what fragments he could recall of their joining had changed their friendship forever.  He’d like to be able to talk to her, the way he had when he’d first arrived on Moya, but he didn’t think that was possible any more.  Rygel was still a Dominar, in attitude if not in fact.  John had no experience talking with rulers who want to be treated like rulers and Rygel had little interest in just chatting with anyone he felt was inferior to him … which was everyone on Moya.  Pilot could usually spare him a few moments, but he knew that Pilot was never completely paying attention to anyone or anything except Moya.  Except maybe Aeryn, who had had Pilot’s DNA inside her and was probably the only person who could understand what Pilot was really like.


Why hadn’t he spoken to her when he had gone by her quarters earlier?  He decided it was because he was too tired to play her verbal fencing.  Sometimes, it seemed like everything was a challenge to her, a combat to be won or lost.  Usually, he enjoyed the wordplay.  It was amazing to watch her grow as a person.  She’d managed to overcome so much of the garbage they’d fed her when she was a PeaceKeeper.  Her sense of humor was becoming more defined, her wit was growing ever sharper and her ability to deliver quick comebacks and one-liners sometimes shocked even her.

Arriving at his quarters, he undressed and slid under the covers.  His mind refused to relax, so he stared at the ceiling, wishing that someone … anyone … would come by for a visit.

//Half our lives we spend waiting for the knock upon the door.

When it comes will it be the one that I’ve been waiting for?//

* * *

Aeryn lay in her own bed, staring up at the ceiling.  Moya was quiet.  Too quiet.  Every once in a while, she missed the constant movement and noise that had been her life aboard PeaceKeeper vessels.  Out of necessity, PeaceKeepers learned to ignore the constant intercom messages, waking only when their own name or a general alarm was sounded.  Moya’s near silent operation was sometimes too much to bear.  It gave her time to think.

She worked through her thoughts and emotions as she had been taught.  “If you can identify an emotion or a stray thought,” her instructors had said, “you can acknowledge its existence and then push it away so that it will not affect the performance of your duties.”  Aeryn nodded to herself and began doing just that.

She was still disturbed by the reality of the man she’d been taught to revere as a hero.  Durka was insane.  She wondered which worried her more:  if it was the PeaceKeepers who did not know he was insane when they *should* have known, or if they *had* known and taught her to revere him as a hero anyway.  Also, if she had met Durka before she had become a part of this crew, how would she have reacted then?  Would she have recognized his insanity? Or would she have considered it “normal” for a PeaceKeeper captain?  Unable to resolve these questions, she put them in a little box in her mind and closed the lid.  She would take them out later, when she had more information.

Her skill today in her combat practice was less than it should have been.  She noted her concern about this, promised herself extra practice tomorrow, and moved on.

She continued this way for nearly an arn, going through each thought and emotion, dealing with it as efficiently as possible, and moving on.  Then ….

She was lonely.

This stopped her.  Lonely?  She thought back.  It had been a long time since she’d had sex, and that was with some male she met in a club on one of her last ports of call.  But that wasn’t the feeling she had in front of her.  Pieces of the last cycle came back to her:

“Haven’t you ever clicked … with a guy?” Crichton had asked after she had stumbled across him with Gilina, kissing.

“How about you girls?  Sex dreams?” Crichton asking, and her honest reply that she had slept soundly.

“I thought PeaceKeepers were trained to … die alone,” John had said.

Her reply, “I guess my training is failing me.”

She was indeed lonely.  And she had no idea how to deal with it.  She thought about it for a long while.  The best she could come up with was a promise:

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere, waiting for someone to come their way.

Somebody’s out there, somewhere.  I will somehow be somebody’s someone … someday.//

Unwilling to think any more about it, she rose from her bed, dressed quickly and left her quarters.  She padded silently past the others’ quarters.  D’Argo was on watch tonight, his rooms in the disarray that was their natural state.  Chiana was asleep.  She still didn’t like the Nebari very much.  The thief was a danger to everyone aboard.  Asleep, though, her face relaxed, Chiana’s tough-as-nails mask fell away to reveal a woman who was little more than a child … and Aeryn had little experience dealing with children.  She moved on and came to Rygel’s quarters.  Her hand moved, almost of its own volition, to the knife on her belt.  She had as much as promised the Hynerian that she would kill him someday.  She *always* kept her promises.  The only things saving him were the fact that Moya’s crew needed him to barter for supplies (he was *very* good at that, she had to admit) and the fact that she had never actually said that she would be the one to kill him.  She decided to let him live a while longer and moved on.  Zhaan was in her quarters, meditating nude … again.  Not wishing to disturb her, Aeryn moved on quickly.  Zhaan had been through a lot.  If she needed meditation to restore herself, Aeryn was not about to interrupt her.  As she moved down another corridor, a DRD sped by her on some errand.  She had been a little tense ever since Moya had armed the small machines, but Moya was peaceful and happy now, her baby doing fine.  Pilot was happy, too, she knew.  He had, after all, devoted his entire life to Moya.  Her happiness was his.  He wasn’t lonely.

That word again. 

She tried to shake it off and continued walking.  She slowed as she approached Crichton’s quarters.  She heard movement.  In past nights, walking by the crew quarters like this, she had learned that he could be a very light sleeper sometimes.  Staying in the darker part of the hallway, she quietly neared his quarters, just enough to look through the lattice wall.  She could see that he wasn’t asleep.  He stayed in one position for less than a hundred microts before changing to another position, and then he did it again.  Fascinated, she watched him for a little while, until he seemed to find a comfortable position.  Then she realized that if his eyes were open, he might be able to see her.  She backed away and returned the way she’d come.

* * *

//Standing in the shadows, hiding from the light.

Reach out in the darkness, and hold on for your life.//

Through slitted eyes, John watched Aeryn watching him.  He found himself more awake and alert than before.  He wondered how often she did this.  Did she watch the others as she watched him?

She seemed to startle at something and backed away.  Listening for it, he could hear her quiet tread moving away from his room.  Had she seen him watching her?  If so, the next couple of days could be hell, unless he fixed this now.

Maybe it *was* time for another chat with Aeryn.  He didn’t know if he was up for the war of words it might entail, but he knew he had to do it.  Rising from his bed, he dressed and headed for her quarters.

* * *

She had *run* … from *him* … because she was afraid he might see her watching him.  *Why?*

She needed to clear her head.  The best place to do that, she’d found, was the terrace.  The quickest way led through Command.  She shook her head.  So be it.  D’Argo was usually good enough not to ask too many questions.

Arriving in Command, she saw D’Argo at the holographic table, examining a stellar map they’d obtained on their last planetfall.

“Aeryn,” he said without turning around, his voice a deep rumble.

“D’Argo,” she responded.

He terminated the holographic display and turned around.  “Your turn in Command isn’t for another six arns.”

“I know,” she said.  “I’m just on my way to the terrace.  The route through Command was the shortest.”  She began walking toward the other doorway.

D’Argo’s eyes studied her as she left.  From her quarters, the shortest route to the terrace was through the maintenance bay, not Command.  Aeryn, he knew, liked to be as close as possible to her Prowler.  He wondered where she had been, but decided against asking.  With the others on Moya, asking a question usually led to a question being asked in return … and there were still some secrets he’d rather not share with the rest of the crew.  He turned back and restarted the holographic display.

Aeryn arrived at the terrace, glad to have made it there without having to answer awkward questions.  She’d seen D’Argo’s expression and was glad that one of the others wasn’t there.  Zhaan or Chiana or Rygel would have asked where she’d been.  Crichton, of course, would pester her with question after question until either he’d gotten the whole story or he feared for his life.  She smiled at that.  He always thought that if he pushed her too far, she’d hit him with another pantak jab.

Of course, Crichton was the reason she was here.

She examined her thoughts and feelings again, and came to a realization.  In spite of all of her instructors’ teachings, John Crichton was the one thought, the one emotion, that refused to be put in a box and pushed away.  She had to figure out what to do about it.

He was the most bizarre creature she’d ever met.  He challenged everything she ever believed. The things he didn’t know about surviving as a fugitive were endless.  His curiosity was so detrimental, it had nearly gotten him killed numerous times.  In fact, it was his curiosity that had brought him here in the first place.  He wasn’t even a Sebacean.  If he had never come here, she’d be ….

She paused.

What were his words?  “The happy little PeaceKeeper, subjugating the lesser races.”  Before she met him, that wouldn’t have bothered her.  She had changed.  If he had never come here, she’d be less than she was.  She’d seen things she never would have seen.  She’d done things she’d never have been able to do otherwise.

She did have a lot to blame him for, but she also had a lot to thank him for.  He was her friend … but was that all?

//All the fear of the future; all the loneliness inside.

When the moment of truth arrives, hey, you can run but you can’t hide.//

* * *

She wasn’t in her quarters.  He could always ask Pilot where she was.  The DRDs let Pilot keep track of everyone’s location, most of the time.  But that would be cheating.  Besides, looking for her by himself would give him time to think about what he was going to say to her when he found her.  He couldn’t just tell her that he had seen her watching him.  If that wasn’t the reason she’d left, it would just create the problem he was trying to fix.

She wasn’t in the maintenance bay.  He’d thought she might be doing a little work on her ship.  He could have used that as the icebreaker.  She was very proud of her Prowler and talking about it was one sure way to get her in a good mood.  Wherever she was, he’d have to think of something else to get her to start talking to him.

He glanced at his Farscape module, but the memories of the false Earth were still too fresh in his mind.  He hadn’t flown it since he’d returned.  He wondered if the old saying was true, that you *can’t* go home again.  In so many ways, Moya was his home, now.  But even with the horror show that his homecoming had become, he knew he had to keep trying.  It hadn’t *all* been horrible, though.  That time with Aeryn, drinking beer and just looking out the window of the motel room … he hadn’t realized it at the time, but having her there was what made his homecoming complete.

He began walking toward Command.  He smiled slightly and shook his head.  “You want it all, John,” he admonished himself.  And what was wrong with that, he wondered.  Then his own words sank in and he stopped in his tracks.  He wanted to go home, but he also wanted Aeryn … even as a friend, if he had to.  Home wouldn’t be home if she wasn’t there.  Another old adage said that home is where the heart is.  But what do you do when you can’t have everything your heart wants?

He continued toward Command.

D’Argo looked up as Crichton came in.  “Crichton.”

“Hey, D’Argo.  How’s it going?”

Slightly puzzled, D’Argo answered, “Moya is traveling at her optimal velocity.  There are no problems to report.  Why?”

“Sorry, big guy.  Another human expression.  It’s … never mind.”  He looked around, but didn’t see Aeryn.

“Are you looking for something in particular?” the Luxan asked.  Then, recalling Aeryn’s distractedness, he added, “Or somebody?”

“Somebody?” Crichton repeated.

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere, waiting for someone to come their way.

Somebody’s out there, somewhere.  I will somehow be somebody’s someone … someday.//

“Uh, yeah,” he managed after a moment.

Crichton’s facial response was all the confirmation D’Argo had needed.  John was looking for the PeaceKeeper … again.  A grin stealing onto his face, humor crinkling the corners of his eyes, he waited for Crichton to continue.

“Have you seen Aeryn anywhere?”

“She’s on the terrace,” he said.  He turned back to the control panel, but watched Crichton out of the corner of his eye as the Human walked out.  He chuckled as he turned his attention back to the readouts.  He might win the ship’s betting pool after all.

* * *

Aeryn had not moved for a long time.  She stood there on the terrace, staring out at the stars as Moya traveled toward their next stop, another commerce planet in the uncharted territories.  She tried to distract herself by planning what she would try to obtain when they landed … what she could use from her own gear as material to barter with … how to keep the rest of the crew out of trouble, especially ….

She couldn’t help it.  Her life was so tied up with his, she couldn’t get away from him, even when she tried.  Thinking back to the false Earth, she asked herself again why she had gone after him when his ship had disappeared.  She’d finally had a chance to be rid of him once and for all.  He had gone home.  He was out of her life forever.

He’d asked her to go with him.

In spite of everything.  In spite of that Tech on the Zelbinion, in spite of all the times she’d hit him and insulted him and belittled him.  In spite of the way she’d resisted his every attempt to become her friend.  In spite of way they’d stepped back after they’d returned from the Flax, saying it would never happen again.  Never.

And then he had asked her to go with him.

And she had said, “No.”

And then she followed him anyway.

Did she have the courage to follow through on this?

//I can feel it inside me.  I’ve been holding on so long.//

* * *

//Something’s telling me something’s got to give

‘cause this feeling’s way too strong … too strong.//

John stood in the open doorway, watching Aeryn as she crouched on the forward edge of the terrace, nothing between her and the stars but a force field.  God, she was beautiful against the expanse of the galaxy.

Well, he’d found her.  Now what?

He walked onto the terrace, scuffing his feet a little, on purpose, to let her know he was there.  He crouched down next to her.  “Hey.”

She looked at him with an odd expression for a moment.  She remembered this game from that time they’d returned from the Zelbinion and he’d come to see her in Command.  “Hey,” she responded.

“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.

“Restless night,” she replied, then added, “For both of us.”

“Something on your mind?” he asked, hesitantly.  “Y’know, among my people, talking about it can help.”

“From what I’ve seen, your people talk incessantly.”  No, she chided herself.  It’s too easy to fall into the same old patterns.  That last barb hurt him.

“Yeah, well,” he said, rising.  “What you saw wasn’t exactly a true picture of Earth.”  This was a mistake, he thought.  “I’ll leave you to your silence.”  He’d crossed half the distance to the doorway when ….

“John?”  Aeryn’s voice was unsteady, unsure.

“Yeah?” he said, not turning around.

“Will you … tell me more about Earth?  What it’s really like?”

He turned around then and looked at her.  She was standing now, only half-turned away from him.  “Umm, sure,” he said.  “I can do that.  But why?”

“Back in that … what did you call it?  Motel?  Yes.  Back in that motel, you told me to look out the window, that what I was seeing was Earth.  It was beautiful, and I’d like to hear more about it.  After all, you will be going back there … someday.”

“Sure, Aeryn.  I can do that.”  He sat down on the terrace and motioned for her to join him.  After a moment, she did.  He spent the rest of the ship’s “night” telling her stories about the people and the places and the things … about his family and his friends and what life was like … about Earth, as it really was.

* * *

Aeryn had the next watch in Command, and it was with some regret that she left him sitting on the terrace.

When she arrived in Command, D’Argo seemed more cheerful than usual, but claimed that there was nothing special to report.  With the lessons drilled into her regarding the performance of her duties, she monitored the ship’s sensors and systems efficiently and effectively, but a small part of her mind was still focused on the frustratingly confusing man who refused to be put into a box and pushed away.

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere, waiting for someone to come their way.

Somebody’s out there, somewhere.  I will make them mine.//

“Why are *you* smiling?” a voice asked from the doorway.

Aeryn turned to see Chiana watching her.  The smile instantly faded from her mouth but lingered in her eyes long enough for the Nebari to notice.  In her best PeaceKeeper Officer’s voice, Aeryn asked, “What do you want, Chiana?”

“Zhaan said I should start learning how to do things around here.  Standing watch in Command looks boring, but sounds easy enough.”

Aeryn sighed.  “I will speak with Zhaan later.  In the meantime, go to that station and check our current course.”  As Chiana sauntered to the indicated station, Aeryn knew it was going to be a long watch but, strangely, she was still in a good mood.

* * *

Crichton watched her go, then lay back on the terrace and stared upward for a while, resting his eyes and his voice.

Finally gathering up enough energy to move, he rose, brushed the non-existent dust from his clothes, and made his way back to his room.  As he walked though Command, he saw Aeryn teaching Chiana how to read some of the instruments.  Chiana gave him a wink and a suggestive shake of her hips, but he was in too good a mood to bother with a retort.  His eyes met Aeryn’s for just a moment.  Struggling to keep a stupid grin from covering his face, he left Command and continued toward his quarters.

As he left, he heard Chiana say, “Ouch!  What was *that* for?”

The rest of the way to his quarters, he couldn’t stop smiling.

He undressed and got into his bed.  He was tired, but for the first time in weeks, he was happy.  As he drifted off to sleep, his final thoughts were:

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere, waiting for someone to come their way.

Somebody’s out there, somewhere.  I will somehow be somebody’s someone … someday.//

* * *

Aeryn’s turn in Command was over.  Rygel was there, now.  No one really expected Rygel to do too much work, but if something came up, he’d sound the alarm.  Chiana had taken off after only two arns, but it was two arns more than she’d really expected from the girl.

After a cursory check of her Prowler, to make sure that neither of Moya’s light-fingered inhabitants had absconded with any “spare parts,” she went back to her rooms to change into her practice gear.  Even as she began changing, she found herself thinking:

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere ….//

Coming to a decision, she finished changing and walked to John’s quarters.  This time, she did not stand in the shadows.  He was just waking up when she got there.  She stood there, watching him for a moment and admiring the view as he stretched and tried to shake off the last remnants of sleep.

It wasn’t until she knocked that he noticed her.  “Aeryn,” he said, coming fully awake.  “What’s up?”

She actually looked upward for a moment before remembering that the phrase was another one of his human expressions.  Something else she’d have to get used to, she supposed.  She waited until he came over and opened the door.

Before he could turn away, she took his face in her hands and kissed him.  Startled at first, John quickly overcame his surprise and embraced her with all the passion he had been holding back all those months.

After a long, wonderful moment, she broke the kiss.  Disentangling herself from his arms, Aeryn smiled at him, touched his face and said, “Never say ‘never,’ John.”

Understanding, Crichton merely nodded as she walked away.  There was plenty of time.  As he went back into his room to get dressed, he smiled, knowing that

//Somebody’s out there, somewhere ….//

The End.

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