Disclaimer: Farscape and its characters don't belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.
Setting and Spoiles: Up to The Flax. Takes place between The Flax and Jeremiah Crichton.
Notes: I started this for SC#60, but it just took forever to write. I apologize in advance for any mistakes. I don't have a beta reader yet.
Crichton looked at D'Argo, trying to contain his grin, "You know big guy, I think I'd better give you two a little time alone here, cause you know, in a universe this vast, when two hearts collide..."
He and Aeryn beat a hasty retreat away from the awkward conversation and the smelly chamber. As they stepped into the other chamber, Aeryn asked, "Are you alright?"
"Me? Yeah I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?"
Looking at him like he was truly mentally deficient she replied, "You died. You came back, how are you feeling?"
Crichton took a quick assessment of his body. His nerves were still a little shaky. He felt like his ribs were severely bruised, but everything seemed to be in working order. Aeryn might have used more force than was necessary to revive him. Bruised ribs were a common danger in CPR administration. He didn't want to tell her he was hurting. It wasn't her fault. "I'm good. When we get back to the ship I'll get cleaned up and check in with Zhaan. But everything feels fine."
Aeryn stood in the back of the compartment. It was a tight fit, but she and Crichton were not going back into the other room. Aftermath was setting in. This was a near miss. They both could have died. John did die. And as much as she didn't want to admit it, he died well. Once the decision was made there was no hesitation on his part. Yeah, he wined a little about the pain and didn't trust the "wake-up" call. Fortunately he had insisted she learn CPR. She hoped she never needed it again. Human battle triage was so much less technical than sebacean medicine. The CPR had taken a lot out of her. She didn't realize just how tired she was. Now that the threat was over, she was getting cold again. If only she hadn't dropped that nerve shot.
Crichton noticed Aeryn's lack of color. "Are you alright?"
"Why wouldn't I be? Your the one who died."
"Yeah. And your the one who had to do all the work."
"John, when I re-pressurized the pod, there was a shock wave and I dropped the vial to wake you up. It broke. If you hadn't have insisted I learn CPR, then you wouldn't be here."
"You did great. Everything worked out fine." She looked hesitantly at him. "Aeryn, I'm fine. Really." He gave her the thumbs up sign that never failed to confuse her.
The rest of the trip back to Moya was spent going over all the problems they experienced with the pod. Could they have avoided the flax? Was there anyway to even pick up a trace of the flax? Pilot might be able to add a search parameter to the sensors that would pick it up. Maybe they should just leave Zenetan Space. Moya was going to have to build a new pod. There was no way to salvage the other one. And at the next commerce planet they were going to need to pick up a new flight suit helmet for Crichton.
Moya netted Staanz's ship and brought it into the garage. Crichton, Aeryn and D'Argo got off the ship as quickly as possible, followed by Staanz. Zhaan was waiting at the doors for them.
"The pirates are a long way from here. Staanz should be safe to leave if he goes now."
"She." D'Argo responds.
Zhaan opened her mouth to respond, then changed her mind. She'd already suspected that Staanz was female.
D'Argo turned to their unwanted guest. "You are welcome to leave. Pilot will provide you with the co-ordinates the pirates followed so you can avoid them."
Crichton, in the meantime, walked over to Zhaan. He tried not to get too close, well aware that the near death experiences on the pod and exposure to Staanz's ship has made him undesirable for close contact. "Zhaan, I'm going to get cleaned up. Can you meet me in your maintenance bay in half an arn?" he whispered.
"Sure John. Are you alright?"
John glances over his shoulder to where Aeryn was talking with D'Argo and Staanz. "I'm fine. I'll be there shortly."
Freshly scrubbed and wearing blessedly clean clothes, John walked into the maintenance bay. Zhaan wasn't there yet and John breathed a sigh of relief. He had a few minutes to psych himself up for the exam. He was pretty sure two of his ribs were bruised. It hurt to move. Surprisingly, Aeryn hadn't caught on to the fact that he was hurting. He'd either gotten better at hiding it or she'd been preoccupied with other thoughts.
He walked over to look at the shelves with all of Zhaan's home remedies. He reached out to pick one up and his hand started shaking. He quickly lowered it. Suddenly his legs went weak and started throbbing. He quickly sat down on the bench. As soon as his weight settled, his ribs started aching. He stood up again, keeping a hand on the table to steady himself.
"Zhaan, did you forget about me?" he called into his comms.
"No John. I'm finishing up with Staanz. D'Argo is fixing something on her ship. I might be a little while yet, though."
"OK. I'm going to head to Command. Comm me when your free and I'll come back."
Crichton glanced at the maintenance bay. Should he be glad for this reprieve? His ribs were really starting to hurt and the tremors were getting worse. He'd go up to Command and go over the sensor logs for the last hours. Maybe he could see an anomaly that would predict a future flax field.
An hour later, John hadn't had any luck. Moya's sensors didn't pick anything up. He leaned harder onto the console in front of him. His ribs were really hurting and his legs were protesting holding him up. Apparently aftermath had set in. It had been a rough day.
Zhaan's voice came over the comms. "John, I'm ready for you in the maintenance bay."
"I'll be down in just a few minutes Zhaan. Aeryn's on her way to relieve me from Command. We don't want to leave the sensors unattended until we are well out of flax range."
"That's a good idea. I will see you shortly."
As Aeryn stepped into Command and up to the console next to him, John decided to face the issue of what happened between them head on. Succinctly he said, "Heat of the moment."
Looking out to view screen, grateful for the excuse, she replied, "Exactly. Too much pure oxygen."
Carefully he replied, "Affected our judgment." Now testing the waters, he added, "If it had been you and D'Argo there, the same thing probably would have happened."
Without looking at him she said dryly, "Or you and Zhaan."
Crichton's face scrunched up. He can't tell if she just made a joke, so how should he respond? "Anyway, one thing's for sure - it'll never... never happen again."
She agrees a little too quickly, "Never."
"Never." He responds.
"Never." She's trying not to smile.
They could go back and forth for hours, arns, if he let her. He turned and walked over to her. "One thing. Just to be absolutely certain. You are the female of your species, right?" He's barely smiling trying not to laugh.
Aeryn stepped forward. He stepped back just a little. "I'll take that as a yes." He said breaking into a smile. Without another word he turns to leave Command. His hands are shaking and he doesn't want her to notice. The lighthearted moment let him brush off the emotional wreckage he's been carrying. The adrenaline rush was gone and now his mind was totally focused on the physical aftermath of being dead.
He made it passed the Central Chamber. D'Argo was having a drink. Crichton stepped in to thank him for saving them. He casually leaned against the wall by the door. Hopefully the luxon wouldn't notice how shaky he was. "D'Argo—"
"John, don't. You would have done the same for me. I would say we are even."
"For the moment. We seem to bounce back and forth a lot. I'm heading down to the maintenance bay. Zhaan wants to check me over. That whole dying thing. She wants to run some tests. You know where to find me if you want to talk."
The tremors got worse as soon as he left the Central Chamber. It was getting hard to walk and he wasn't sure he was going to make it to the maintenance bay. He didn't have any previous death experiences to draw from, but he didn't think this reaction was normal. His stomach chose that moment to protest movement. This was not good. The maintenance bay was a distance on a good day.
John put his hand out to catch himself. He found himself in the corridor leaning against the wall. One of the DRDs spotted him and relayed the information to Pilot. "Crichton are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Pilot. I'm on my way to see Zhaan." He stumbled a down another tier. About halfway to the maintenance bay he leaned back on Moya's ribs to catch his breath. Slowly, he slid to the floor and laid his head back. He was asleep before he realized it.
He came to at the incessant pushing behavior of one of the DRDs. It was ramming his boot. Pilot's voice was on the comms. "Commander Crichton?"
"Yes, Pilot," he answered groggily.
"Zhaan has been looking for you. She should be to your location any microt now."
"It's not necessary for her to come up here. I am on my way to her."
"That's what you said an arn ago."
"An arn?" He was out that long? Why didn't he feel rested? He staggered to a standing position, still braced against the wall. The shakes immediately started up again. His stomach turned over and the room seemed to tilt.
The DRD reported his condition directly to Pilot. "Zhaan is almost to your location. Just wait there."
Since John didn't think he could move, he agreed. The world was spinning so hard. He couldn't remember a time he was ever this dizzy. That head on when he was nineteen had nothing on this.
He looked up as Zhaan's footsteps echoed in the corridor. "Hey Blue."
"John, let me help you." Zhaan stepped to his side and prompted him to put his arm around her shoulders. It was awkward since she was taller than he was. "Come on, lean on me, I've got you."
This brought back memories of a similar walk in the corridors when their positions were reversed. "Thanks."
"Where do you hurt?"
"My ribs mostly. Everything else is just shaky. My limbs don't want to cooperate."
"Can you make it, or should I get one of the others to help?" That little movement had made Crichton pale. Even more pale than normal. She's taking more of his weight with every step.
"Don't tell Aeryn. She's going over the sensor logs. And I don't want her to know." He tried to take back more of his weight. It wasn't working.
Zhaan said, "Maybe D'Argo is free. Pilot?"
Pilot's voice came over the comms. "D'Argo is aware of the situation and will be there in twenty microts."
Zhaan responded, "Thank you Pilot." John reached out and braced some of his weight on the wall to take the pressure off Zhaan. D'Argo came around the corner a moment later. He stepped forward to throw Crichton over his shoulder. John held his arm up to stop him. "I can walk, I just need a little help. If you carry me over your shoulder, it could do more damage to my ribs than if I walk."
Over Crichton's head Zhaan made eye contact with D'Argo. She shook her head in silent communication that John shouldn't walk. Without comment, D'Argo put his arm under John's knees and back and lifted him like a child. John made a quick grab for D'Argo's shoulder to brace himself. The pain of his ribs prevented him from protesting the feeling of being carried like a baby.
It took just a few minutes for D'Argo to make it to the maintenance bay. It would have taken John forever. D'Argo sat him down on the makeshift medical bed. "How did you injure yourself? I was not aware that you were damaged on the pod."
"It's a long story. When the pod hit the flax it was badly damaged. Aeryn and I tried to break it free, but that only caused more damage. The atmospheric mix line was crushed. We decided to vent the pod into space to weld the line, but my space suit helmet was destroyed in the crash. Aeryn administered a Peacekeeper kill shot to knock me out so she could fix the line. The nerve shot was destroyed in the turbulence when the pod re-pressurized. Aeryn had to administer CPR to wake me up."
"CPR?" Zhaan asked as she helped John take his shirt off. His chest was covered in purplish bruises. She started palpating his back and chest, feeling for the sore points.
"It's a human resuscitation technique. It restarts the heart, keeps the oxygen in the blood. Aeryn was able to wake me up. The drawback to CPR is that it requires a lot of pressure on the ribcage. Bruised or cracked ribs are common in patients who have had it administered."
"That explains the bruised ribs. What about the shakes?" Zhaan asked. She started mixing a compound in one of her jars.
"I'm not sure. I've never had to be resuscitated before. I don't know if nervous breakdowns are normal. I've never heard of it happening before. CPR is common on Earth. I think this was a normal reaction they would have told us about it in class. Then again, I've never heard of CPR being performed after the vacuum of space."
With a thoughtful expression on her face, Zhaan said, "If it's not a common side-effect of the CPR, I think we should look at other causes. You said Aeryn gave you a kill shot? How does that work?"
"Aeryn said it stops all heart and brain function cold. It's designed for campaign triage, for sebaceans. We weren't sure the nerve shot would work on humans so I taught Aeryn CPR."
Zhaan came back over to the bed and started applying the paste around the bruises on John's chest. "Hold still. This paste will take away some of the pain. It will also solidify to keep your ribs in place. Fortunately your ribs aren't cracked." She started spreading the paste on. "I wonder if this is what happens if the nerve shot isn't administered to someone who receives the kill shot?"
"As far as I know, it's never happened before."
"I think we need to ask Aeryn," D'Argo said.
"No! D'Argo, I don't want Aeryn to know. I've got this." John looked directly at D'Argo. He knew the human didn't want Aeryn to see him as weak.
"If you don't get better, then I will ask her. You'd better be well soon, human." D'Argo turned and stormed out of the maintenance bay. He headed straight to command.
Zhaan finished applying the paste. "I think you should stay here until the shakes stop."
"I'm fine, Zhaan. I'll just go to quarters. I'm tired anyway. It's been a long day."
"If you insist on this folly, then you'll have to do it under your own power."
John grabbed his shirt. He decided it would hurt to much to put it on, so he just wadded it up. He slid off the edge of the bed and caught himself just as he was about to hit the floor.
"You really should stay here."
"Maybe your right Zhaan, but I don't like hospital beds. I really will sleep better in my quarters." He walked out of the maintenance bay holding himself stiffly.
Zhaan shook her head and whispered, "Stubborn human."
It took John an arn to make it to his room. Every few steps he had to stop and wait for the shutters in his body to die down. He opened the door to his cell and stumbled in. He made it as far as the bed and sat down hard. Lying back on the bed he fell into an unusually deep sleep. Exhausted, he slept through the hard shakes that racked his body.
Up on Command, D'Argo walked up to the console Crichton had left arns ago. Aeryn was still maintaining her position at the other console. He looked over the sensor readings. No anomalous readings. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm alright. You got there just in time. The pod was almost out of breathable atmosphere." Aeryn looked over at him. "Thank you."
"Your welcome." D'Argo looked over the sensor readings. "Crichton said you tried to fix the atmospheric mix line."
"I've never had to repair anything like that before. I didn't complete the repairs in time. John ran out of time."
"Next time, you will do better."
"There's not going to be a next time." The very idea was a chilling one.
Changing the subject, D'Argo said, "Staanz gave us some information that might help us to detect future encounters with the flax. We won't know for sure unless we actually come across it again."
"I hope we don't ever experience that again. Moya is going to need to build a new transport pod. Even if we could have retrieved that one, there wasn't much left."
The tremors were becoming more manageable in the week since the flax. They were happening more frequently, but Crichton could now sense them before they happened. He would make sure that he was sitting down before they hit him. Now that he knew what to expect, it was easier to hide his condition. The tremors weren't lasting as long and he was maintaining consciousness now. John was confident that One-Eye, Pilot and Moya were the only ones who knew he was still having them.
He started spending his free moments in the transport hanger with his module. The engine burn he did this morning was the last of his fuel. He was going to have to finish the engine modifications if he expected to ever use it again. It was rare for anyone to come down here looking for him. They all avoided his module. The only time Aeryn came down was to work on her prowler. He managed to be on command most of the time when she doing that.
The hatch cover had come loose, he pulled it down to adjust the hydrolic arm. Grabbing a wrench from his pouch, he twisted the bolt tighter. He noticed his hand started shaking and backed away from the module. He reached out with his left hand and tried to still his right. Slowly the shakes moved up his arm, his hand going numb. His knees buckled and he fell to the ground, hitting the back of his head. Everything went black as he was knocked unconscious.
One-Eye, who had been watching from the side of the maintenance table, came sliding over. Frantically the DRD rammed John trying to wake him. When his actions had no effect, he transmitted the situation to Pilot.
"Officer Sun?" Pilot's voice came over the comms. Aeryn was in the gym working out.
"Yes Pilot?" she asked, wondering what crisis would prompt him to interrupt her free time.
"Commander Crichton is in the transport hanger and he's not responding to his comms. You are closest to his location. Can you check on him?"
"Yes Pilot, I'm on my way."
She found him unconscious on the floor next to his module. He was breathing, but the breaths were shallow. She rushed over and lifted his head onto her lap. "John." She tapped his face. "John, wake-up." He had a newly forming bruise on his temple and a lump forming on the back of his head. "D'Argo, I need your help in the maintenance bay."
John startled awake. He looked around at his surroundings. He was in the maintenance bay that doubled as the med ward. Zhaan was standing next to her table mixing compounds.
"Zhaan? What—," As awareness came back he realized the last thing he remembered was working on his module. He laid back on the bed. "It happened again, didn't it?"
A voice from the corner spoke out. "What happened again?"
"Aeryn? I didn't see you there."
"Obviously. Now answer the question. What happened again?"
Crichton got that stubborn look on his face as he started to push himself to a sitting position. Zhaan came around the table to push him back down. "Crichton has been having convulsions for a while now. Sometimes they cause him to loose consciousness."
"How many episodes has he had?" Aeryn asked.
Over Crichton's shoulder, Zhaan shrugged. She gestured at John in frustration. Aeryn stepped closer to the bed. "Crichton, how many of these episodes have you had?"
Uh-oh, she was calling him Crichton again. "Including today? I've blacked out three times," he said, hoping she wouldn't catch the evasion.
Zhaan caught it instead. "How many convulsions have you had?"
Looking cornered, John answered, "About six."
Zhaan's face went stern. "Pilot!"
"—a day. About six a day."
Aeryn looked visibly upset, John blanched. "How long has this been going on?"
Seeing that John wasn't going to answer, Zhaan replied, "Since the incident with the flax. I think these episodes are being caused by nervous misfires. The first one was after you returned with Staanz. I think the kill shot caused this."
Aeryn shook her head in disbelief. "It's not supposed to do that."
Zhaan looked over at her. "I am aware of that. The shot is designed for sebaceans. I think it has more to do with the nerve shot that should have been administered to wake him up. Perhaps there is an agent in it that counter acts the neural impulses caused by the kill shot. Do you know if this could be caused by not receiving the nerve shot?"
"I don't know. It's never happened before."
"Zhaan," John said. "I'm sure it will pass."
"John, it's getting worse. We need to find a treatment before permanent damage is done. If we had another nerve shot we could administer it."
"That was the only triage kit I had. We would need to find a Peacekeeper outpost to replace it."
"Perhaps we could synthesize one?" Zhaan asked. "Pilot, does Moya know anything about the battle triage kit? Maybe she has the formula for the nerve shot in her data banks?"
"The nerve shot is made of a sedative mixed with a stimulant. We have a sedative on board that might work, chlorium. There is only the small amount left from removing the paddac beacon. I don't believe we have any stimulants on board."
"Thank you Pilot. John, in your species do these symptoms match anything you are familiar with?"
"Among my people there is a condition called epilepsy. It is caused by neurons in the brain misfiring. Some people are born with it, some develop it after a traumatic injury."
"And how is it treated?"
"I don't know for sure. The form I am familiar with involves using a medication that acts as a sedative to the neural impulses. The medication also retrains the synapses to fire correctly. Some people have been known to make a full recovery, others learn to live with it. It isn't usually fatal by itself."
"Then chlorium might work. We know it's a sedative and can be used as a seasoning. It should be safe to consume. We still have a small amount left. We kept it in case we needed it for Moya. We certainly didn't expect to use it on the crew."
"Do you know the dose, Pilot?"
"I don't. I only have an estimate for sebacean physiology. I have no idea what it might do to humans."
Zhaan took a breath. "It will have to do. So John, here or in your quarters?"
Aeryn didn't let him answer. "He's staying here. I am not going to make D'Argo bring him back here if something else goes wrong."
"Aeryn, I'm fine."
"Fine is not unconscious under your module. Fine is not having to have D'Argo carry you in here because you won't wake up. You can stay here where Pilot can keep an eye on you."
"Don't argue, John. Aeryn is right. We don't know if anything will go wrong. You need to stay here. I will go get the chlorium. Keep him here."
John pushed himself up to a sitting position and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
"You should stay down."
"I'll lay back down if I feel shaky."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"About this illness?"
"It wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't be alive if you hadn't given me the shot. And I definitely would prefer a quick death to a lingering one."
"If I hadn't dropped the nerve shot, you wouldn't be having this problem now."
"We don't know that. I'm human. The shot might not have even worked. We knew there were risks. The alternative was dying. I'm grateful to be here, and I wouldn't be here without you. Thank you."
Zhaan came back in with a small sack. "Here. This should do the trick." She measured a small amount into a glass tube. She added water and shook the mixture together. It quickly turned blue. "John drink this."
He took the vial and stared at it. He gulped it down quickly, trying not to taste it. "That wasn't so bad." The first thing he noticed was the lack of sensation in his tongue. Then his hands started to go numb. "Zhaan, I don't thin—." His vision started to blur and the room tilted. He put his hand back to catch himself. Quickly Zhaan and Aeryn helped him lay back and he was asleep.
Aeryn looked up at Zhaan. "That was quick. Was it supposed to put him out so fast?"
"Chlorium by itself wouldn't put him to sleep. I added a sleeping agent to help. He hasn't been sleeping and I think that may be the biggest factor in his illness."
"Why hasn't he slept?"
"The nerve impulses constrict making it hard for him to relax. Then it takes forever for him to get to sleep. This should help. That should keep him out all night." Zhaan looked over at Aeryn with concern. "Why don't you get some rest."
"No I'll stay for a little while. I don't have to relieve D'Argo for a few arns yet."
"Comm me if he gets worse."
When Crichton awoke, he was disappointed to realize he was alone. He slipped off the bed and made his way to his quarters. The tremors seemed to be gone for the moment. He felt edgy and irritable. It was probably best he was alone. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone. Every nerve ending in his body felt inflamed.
"Crichton!" D'Argo's voice came over the comms, "I need your help with a clog in Moya's amnexus system."
John looked at his bed, decided rest could wait and went to meet D'Argo. Hopefully this edgy feeling would dissipate.
D'Argo was already in a bad mood when John got there. The smell coming from the tubes in Moya's sidewall was horrific. He snapped at Crichton, "This is your fault."
How they got to the blame game, John didn't have a clue. He really didn't want to have this conversation right now. Couldn't they just get the blockage cleared so he could get some sleep? "Why is it always my fault?"
Huffily D'Argo replied, "It's not always your fault— just almost always your fault. Now give that amniex a bit of a twist will you?" As John strained to move it, D'Argo shouted, "Not that far! Only about half as much!"
As putrid steam billowed out, John tried to reason with D'Argo, "You know, Pilot said that this blockage was a byproduct of Moya's pregnancy."
Unwilling to accept a reasonable answer, D'Argo growled back, "It was probably caused by you firing that chemical-burning Earth pod in the transport hanger."
Frustrated, John replied, "Well you don't have to worry about that. That was the last of my fuel. I'm totally dependent on your technology now."
"It's not my technology, it's Leviathan technology."
John really did not want to be having this conversation. D'Argo wasn't going to let go of this and he just wasn't feeling good. He needed space. "D'Argo, I don't give a rat's ass what you want to call it. It's your end of the universe. It's your technology." Throwing down the tool, he climbed his way out of the area they were in. "It sure as hell ain't mine!" Needing space, he stormed away.
He went onto command with Zhaan following closely behind him. Why wouldn't they just leave him alone? Every nerve was on fire and he just needed some quiet time to bring himself under control.
"John, is something wrong?" she asked.
"Yep. I'm fed up," he said succinctly.
Zhaan looked at him in confusion. "Fed up? Do—"
Out of patience, John interrupted. "Oh, I'm sorry. Is this gonna be another translator microbe hiccup? 'Oh John, your fed up. Does that mean you've had too many food cubes today?' It was cute. It was vaguely, vaguely amusing the first six billion times." He tapped on the consol looking over the sensor readings.
"Something clearly is troubling you John. Perhaps I can—" She reached out to touch his shoulder.
As he pulled away from her he responded, "So what? Your gonna help? Maybe before, when you were a priest. But guess what?" he couldn't seem to stop himself from saying something he would regret. "You resigned." He stormed off before he said something else horrible.
He went to his room, but his nerves just wouldn't settle down. He really needed to get off the ship for a few minutes before he did something else he'd have to apologize for. He jumped in his suit and headed for the transport hanger.
Aeryn intercepted him as he was prepping the module for flight. "Aeryn, I need some space. I'm going for a drive."
"Crichton, I don't understand what you're talking about."
"I'm going for a drive," he repeated. "Hitting the strip. I'm going cruising."
"What's going on?" she shouted.
Sulkily he replied, "I'm getting some space Aeryn. And I'm not talking about the space outside the ship." He wasn't going to explain himself any further. He needed to get away before he hurt anyone else.
"Look, this is hardly the time for human nonsense Crichton."
He just couldn't stop himself. "Oh God! That's it! You are so damned smart. There's no time for any stupid human anything. And I'm sick of it Aeryn. I'm sick of Napoleon the 14th. I'm sick of blue. I'm sick of tentacle boy. And guess what? I'm sick of you. I'm sick of this whole turd-burp end of the universe." He turned to get in his module and heard D'Argo demanding help.
"Crichton! I need you down here! This backwash is building up too fast!" Rolling his eyes he jumped into the module and closed the canopy.