A/N: This is my contribution to the 100th Startburst Challenge over on the Terra Firma boards. One hundred challenges is quite an achievement and, much to my surprise, I actually felt I could come up with something. So, for the very first time, I contributed with a 5603 word story.
The challenge, as posted by A Damned Scientist:
A lot of time has now passed since the show concluded, zooming out from the terrace, leaving us wondering what happened next. So, for SC100, the challenge is to write a story set 100 days, 100 weekens, 100 monens or even 100 cycles after the end of PKWs. You can focus on any charatcers [sic] you like, or indeed, none. Extra kudos if you write a story showing the passage of time through the days, weekens, monens and cycles. And do remember that a weeken may not be an Erp week, a monen not a month, a cycle not a year. If you can work that difference in somehow, you'll also get kudos.
I immediately knew this was going to be an Aeryn story, even if I didn't have a clear vision of where it would lead. Eventually, Aeryn persuaded me (read: tapped her Pulse Pistol several times when I didn't listen to her 'suggestions') to go with what you'll be reading.
Warnings: There are some swear words in there, but they're all Farscape terms, so they don't count :)
Disclaimer: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. I don't own anythings Farscape related and I make no money with this dren, is what I'm saying.
Frelling fahrbot Greebols, all of them. Aeryn looked on in disgust as the parade passed by. None of the frellwits celebrating even knew why they were doing so, how completely frodank it was. Peace that only was here for a little longer. It would only be a matter of time until the closely guarded secret would reach the Scarrans or the Nebari, and peace would come to an end. The Peacekeepers already seemed to have reverted to their tyrannic ways, mere weekens after they realized the one person who'd had almost absolute power in all the known territories, was no longer there to keep them straight.
Nobody had learned anything. Fear was what had held the peace for so long. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps they should have listened to Scorpius. He'd often claimed peace was never going to happen or wouldn't last. Granted, he'd probably meant the Scarrans would be the ones to end peace, but from what Aeryn had heard, the Peacekeepers were no better.
Not a very big surprise; since she'd been expelled from the ranks, she'd been awoken to what the Peacekeepers really were: heartless, ignorant bullies. Well, maybe they weren't as bad now as they'd been back then, Aeryn conceded, but from the stories she'd heard the past few weekens, they still weren't living up to their name.
Deciding she'd already had her fill with the nonsense before her, Aeryn turned around and, impatiently pushing those in her way aside, stalked back toward her pride and joy, the latest model of a ship designed by her mate. It truly was the most impressive thing he'd ever done, yet everyone only seemed to remember him for his role in brokering the peace.
Arriving at the space port, she paused for a couple of microts, a slight frown on her face. The universe was frelling her over again, she decided, glaring first at the ground, and then at the hull of her beloved ship. Of course she knew the ship's model number was one hundred, but to have been assigned landing spot one hundred on the one hundredth anniversary of obtaining peace, coincidentally one hundred solar days after her husband passed away, could only be the universe's way to frell with her mind.
Angrily she punched the control to open the hatch, quickly entering once it was open far enough for her to do so. Making her way to the control console, she stopped dead in her tracks at the sight that greeted her. "Where the frell have you been?"
"Nice to see you, too, Mom."
Aeryn was in no mood to act happy, despite the fact her son was doing a very good job of imitating his father's grin. "Answer the frelling question!"
"I've been on a mission," he answered, adding a slight shrug. "Dad asked me to."
Aeryn closed her eyes for a microt. Did he even know his father had passed away? "Dee, I... Your father... he... died." The look on his face informed her he hadn't known.
"One hundred solar says ago." The both of them went silent for a while.
"Well, that 'splains the shift in attitude by the Peacekeepers. As usual, the old man was right."
Aeryn couldn't help but snort. "Yeah. So what mission were you sent on?" She didn't miss his uncomfortable movements.
"Just getting... intel."
Aeryn narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "What kind of intel?"
"The kind that instills enough fear into everyone to at least pretend they like each other."
Aeryn closed her eyes. The universe was definitely frelling her over.
# # #
Aeryn didn't like it one bit. "You have got to be joking."
D'Argo sighed. "It was dad's idea."
Aeryn crossed her arms in front of her. "It's not going to happen."
"Don't 'mom' me," Aeryn interrupted, barely taking note of the fact she'd actually used English for the first time in a dozen or so cycles. "I was there when your father did something similar. I've seen him use this tech twice and neither time bares any good memories for me. I'm not going to witness you following in your father's path."
D'Argo stood up. "So, we're just going to let it happen? Allow the Scarrens, Peacekeepers and Nebari destroy the universe?"
Aeryn shrugged. "It's a big universe, it'll take them a while to get to us if we leave before the next war starts."
D'Argo shook his head. "I can't believe you're suggesting what I think you are suggesting."
Aeryn relaxed her body a little. "Dee, I've been at the heart of war before. Your father and I, as well as our friends, were chased down for over four cycles. I say we find a new zip code nobody's ever heard of and move our eema's there."
Aeryn nodded. "Yes. With your knowledge, it must be possible for you to have us travel through a wormhole to a remote area and we can live out the rest of our lives peacefully. Let others deal with the dren around here."
Aeryn frowned slightly. "It's a figure of speech, Dee. It means another area."
"I got the meaning," D'Argo replied, smiling slightly. "I've never heard the term before though. It sounds English, so I'm assuming dad taught you that."
Aeryn's frown deepened. "Actually, I'm not sure." Had John ever used that phrase? He must have, or she wouldn't know about it. Or maybe she'd heard in when they were on Earth.
"So, you want us to run away?"
Aeryn nodded. "Yes. Let others worry about saving this frelling, and very unthankful, universe. Let them risk their own lives to force some semblance of peace. I don't want to risk mine or anyone else's in our extended family."
D'Argo stared at her in disbelieve. "Okay, who are you and where's my mother?"
Aeryn rolled her eyes. "I'm your mother. I'm older now, I have a family, I've recently lost my mate, and now I just want to live out the rest of my frelling life in frelling peace."
# # #
Aeryn looked unseeingly out the transparent wall of the Leviathan Caldan. John and her had met him and his Pilot over fifteen cycles ago, with Aeryn adopting him as her home after John had passed away. Everything was so different now. She wasn't a Peacekeeper, technically hadn't been for over a hundred cycles. This wasn't Moya, nor was this pilot the one she'd formed such a close bond with. John wasn't here to stand with her, give her support or his love.
The last one was probably the worst, living without John. He'd grown old with her, even if they'd known beforehand he would never live as long as her. He'd managed to live for a hundred and thirty-eight cycles, or about hundred and three Earth years. She smiled softly as she remembered the day John had realized a cycle wasn't as close to an Earth year as he had first thought, determining a cycle was approximately three quarters of an Earth year. Still, hundred and three Earth years was quite an achievement for a Human, especially one that had gone through a lot of trauma since he'd arrived in this part of the universe.
Being on a Leviathan that was not Moya, or even a female, with a different pilot than her friend, was easier to handle, though she wished Moya and Pilot were here. As far as she knew, both of them were still alive, though there had been no contact for over seventy cycles, but a few cycles ago, another Leviathan had informed them she had traveled a few monens with Moya. Still, Aeryn would have preferred being on Moya, if only so she could seek out the gentle Pilot.
Not being a Peacekeeper any longer was probably the only thing she considered a positive change. Truth be told, if she'd not been deemed irrevocably contaminated all those cycles ago, she wouldn't be alive today, of that she was sure. If she hadn't died before the last battle, she would have then. The Scarrans would most likely have won, the Sebecean race possibly gone extinct.
Which all circled back to that one frelling fahrbot Human. Without him, she'd never have been forced out of the Peacekeeper ranks. Without him, she'd never have ended up on Moya to form the close friendship with Pilot. Without him, she'd never have had a family or a wonderful, happy life. Without him, the Scarrans would've conquered the universe, not just this part, but much farther away, possibly even the area containing Earth.
Aeryn remembered asking John if he wasn't worried about the Scarrans exploring the part of the universe further away from Peacekeepers, but John had already looked into that. Apparently the area that lay beyond Scarran space, viewed from the border with the Uncharted Territories, consisted of mostly galactic dust and virtually no stars. It would take them several hundred cycles to even reach an area containing anything worthwhile.
With a soft sigh she turned away from the view and left the observation deck. In a few arns they would arrive at the coordinates to pick up Chiana and her family. Aeryn chuckled softly; Chiana had been adamant she'd never take a new mate after the loss of their Luxan friend. A couple of cycles later she met the somewhat shy Sebecean who would two cycles later end up becoming her mate.
A cycle later had found Chiana giving birth to two daughters, which had been a huge surprise. Twins, Aeryn had explained to John, were very rare among Sebeceans, and even rarer among Nebari. The two girls had a strong mental and emotional bond, able to communicate with each other over vast distances through their minds. Their skin was gray like their mother, with just a hint of pink mixed in. Their hair color was a very bright red, reminiscent of Jool's fiery hair color, and just a few shades brighter than their father's hair color.
Just like D'Argo and Lena had turned out to be blend of John and her. Dee had inherited his father's infuriating grin as well as his tactical brilliance. At the same time he'd inherited her combat and piloting skills. He wasn't as interested in tech, though he could certainly deal with malfunctions. Lena had inherited Aeryn's black hair, but her eyes and mouth were much more like John's. Like Aeryn, Lena had a bit of a temper, though she seemed to deal with it a bit better than Aeryn had. Lena was a lot more into tech than her brother, but was nearly as proficient in piloting as Aeryn was.
# # #
"Are you tinked!"
Aeryn suppressed a laugh as D'Argo faced the anger from his aunt.
"Do you have any frelling clue how dangerous that is?! I've seen what it did to your father and now you go looking for the same tech?!"
"Auntie Chi," D'Argo said, trying to calm her down. "I know how dangerous it is. Dad warned me about that, but he also said I'd need it to maintain the peace. He gave me the coordinates..."
"Did you agree with this," Chiana asked Aeryn, rudely cutting of D'Argo's explanation.
Aeryn shook her head. "No, I had no idea why he'd left or where he'd gone. Not until he got back during the peace celebration."
"So you listened to your father's fahrbot idea? That's just great."
"Now wait a frelling microt," D'Argo said forcefully, standing up. "Things around here are gonna go south now that dad's gone. This knowledge can ensure things are going to calm down quickly. I'd appreciate not being attacked for wanting to protect my family and friends!"
Aeryn's eyebrow raised as D'Argo quite suddenly sat down again, followed by a confused expression on his face.
"Don't anger my daughters," Chiana said, a slight smirk on her face. "Their mental bond has become very strong and comes with several special side effects." She gave a small nod to her daughters.
"Frelling fantastic," D'Argo spat, obviously just then regaining control over his body. "Everyone can attack me freely, but God forbid I stand up for myself!"
"You listen to me," Chiana said, advancing on him, an angry expression on her face. "I've witnessed your father sacrificing himself over and over again to save everyone else. It hurt seeing the dren he'd go through. I don't want to see my godson, the namesake of my first real love, have to go through the frelling same dren!"
D'Argo smiled slightly. "Neither did mom, apparently. She felt it would be better if I'd find all of us a safe place, as far away from here as possible."
Chiana cocked her head. "You could have said that sooner."
D'Argo's smile widened to a grin that reminded Aeryn a lot of John. "Where's the fun in that?"
Chiana chuckled and shook her head. "You're too much like your old man."
# # #
Aeryn once again found herself on the observation deck, watching the stars glide past. They had failed to locate Moya and things around here had started to heat up. A slight frown formed at the thought. Why had she phrased it like that in her mind? John must have had an even bigger influence on her than she'd previously thought if she was starting to use English phrases in her own frelling mind.
She turned at the sound of soft footsteps, noticing Chiana was standing practically beside her already. Her old friend clearly hadn't lost her ability to be stealthy, had probably deliberately made a few noises to not scare Aeryn too much. Aeryn offered a friendly smile, which was returned, and both stared out at the blackness of space.
There wasn't any need to say anything to each other, both knew the other needed the quiet to sort their memories out. They'd been through a lot together, had both lost dear friends. Aeryn remembered her first impression of the Nebari girl, remembered how much the girl had annoyed her. But after the first few monens, Aeryn had found that Chiana was not just an annoyance, and could actually be helpful in dangerous situations.
Still, it had taken a few cycles before Aeryn had realized the younger Nebari girl had become a friend, someone she could actually rely on to be there for her, support her. And Aeryn had returned the favor, helping Chiana deal with the loss of the only man she'd truly loved. Aeryn had the benefit, if you could call it that, of knowing how it felt to lose that one person who is more important to you than anyone else. Not that it had been exactly the same thing, considering Aeryn did have a second chance, something Chiana would never have.
Chiana had decided to stay with her and John, enjoying being the fun aunt to her godson and, cycles later, her goddaughter. Shortly after Lena's birth, Chiana had met Drinar, a shy, red-headed Sebecean. Aeryn had been relieved to see Chiana actually taking an interest in him; her Nebari friend had not once spared more than a glance at another male, until Drinar came into her life. He'd been exactly what she needed to bring back the outgoing and sometimes mischievous woman Aeryn remembered. In turn, Chiana managed to have Drinar become more outgoing, even if he still preferred being quiet.
# # #
Aeryn glared at her son. She knew exactly what he was trying to do: make her change her mind. The younger her would probably have stayed to fight, but she was too old for this dren. "Just get it the frell over with."
"Right." He sighed softly, then moved to stand right beside her. "I'm gonna take the long but easy way, avoid some of the hard turns that are almost impossible for a Leviathan to take. Nonetheless, there are some pretty difficult ones."
"Just give me the frelling directions! I may be old, but I'm still the best pilot." Aeryn noticed his grin, reminding her once again of John.
"Wormhole in three, two, one, go!"
Aeryn lost track of time as she navigated the Leviathan through the various bends, following D'Argo's directions closely. It wasn't until they were dumped back in normal space that she relaxed slightly. Upon seeing the star system in front of them, however, she tensed up again and turned questioningly to D'Argo, who seemed as shocked as she was.
"No, no, tell me I didn't do this."
"When are we, exactly," Aeryn asked, knowing the where was completely obsolete question at this point.
"Hard to tell," D'Argo said. "I think I didn't hop through time, but then again I wasn't exactly aiming for this area."
"Good to know you didn't purposely transport us to Earth." Aeryn sighed. "First, let's find out exactly when we are. Pilot, please set a course to the moon of the third planet from the sun."
# # #
After having tapped into Earth communication satellites, it took less than a microt to find a current events transmission, giving them an exact date. And of course, the frelling universe was frelling them over once more, Aeryn thought in disgust. Exactly one hundred Earth weeks since their last visit to Earth, the night Skreeth had attacked the Crichton home.
That meant John's siblings and father were likely to be still alive. D'Argo and Lena had never met their Earth family, but whether it was wise to pop in for a quick visit, Aeryn wasn't sure. It would only confuse their Earth family and Aeryn wasn't all too sure she wanted to explain all this dren to them.
But Aeryn really wanted to go see them as well. She had missed hanging out with Olivia, missed the kindness from both Olivia and Jack. She'd felt accepted, even at that time, when she and John had been at odds with each other. And this would be a chance for their Earth family to meet John's children, even if that meet and great would be accompanied by a convoluted, and somewhat edited, explanation.
Getting to the surface undetected was going to be simple; upon approaching the moon, Aeryn had instructed Caldan, through his Pilot, to approach it in such a way it would be between them and Earth at all times. With the cloaking device John had installed on her ship, she could practically fly into IASA's hanger without them knowing.
"Kids, would you like to meet your human grandfather and aunts," Aeryn said, grinning at her children, strangely feeling as if this would be exactly what John would have done. "They are very down to Earth," she added, grinning even more at the groan and eye roll coming her way.
# # #
"Hello, Jack." Aeryn smiled as John's father opened the door, relieved to find he still lived in the same house.
Obviously he didn't immediately recognize her. "Yes?"
"It's me, Jack. Aeryn."
"Aeryn? My God, what happened to you?" At the same time he gestured for her step inside, and Aeryn turned toward the completely hidden ship, giving a short nod. D'Argo and Lena stepped out, followed by Chiana, her husband and daughters.
"I grew older," she explained to Jack as she stepped inside, making sure the others could follow easily. She waited with the introductions until everyone had entered the living room. "Jack, I'd like you to meet Dee and Lena. Your grandchildren."
"My grand... Oh, my God."
"I better explain things," Aeryn said, seeing the confusion mixed with delight and interest on his face. She told him they had accidentally traveled through time, that John had died of old age, and a war was on the verge of starting and they'd sought a safe haven and had accidentally ended up here and now.
Jack shook his head. "You've lived a strange live, haven't you?" He then turned to D'Argo and Lena. "So, you are my grandson and granddaughter?"
"Yes, sir," D'Argo said, his politeness unexpectedly returning after cycles of near complete absence. "My name is D'Argo Sun-Crichton, and this is my baby sister Lena Sun-Crichton."
"D'Argo," Jack asked, surprised, then seemingly noticing for the first time John's Luxan friend wasn't here. "And where is your namesake," Jack asked.
"He sacrificed his life," Lena spoke up. "To save the others during the Scarran assault, just after Dee was born."
Aeryn closed her eyes; she'd hoped she wouldn't have to tell too much about their lives. When she reopened her eyes, she saw Jack studying her closely. He surprised her by not asking the hundred and one questions that were undoubtedly floating around his head.
Instead he shifted his attention to Chiana and her family, asking them a few things, avoiding the subject of D'Argo and the circumstances of his death. Aeryn was thankful he was postponing the hard questions for now, but she knew he would start asking them sooner or later. She wasn't quite sure how to handle those; she didn't want Jack to think his son had lived an extremely dangerous life, even though technically the first couple of cycles had been.
But lying about it wasn't something Aeryn felt very comfortable with, especially considering she wasn't very good at it. As she watched Jack interacting with his grandchildren she figured it would be better to not lie to him, and simply ignore several especially horrifying elements from their lives. If he was even going to ask. With a bit of luck it would be cycles before he'd even ask for some more information.
# # #
Olivia was not like her father, Aeryn realized an hour or two later. "Wait, back-up. You guys were actually fighting aliens during my nephew's birth?"
"Mom shot one of them a few hundred microts later," Lena helpfully added, obvious pride in her voice.
"Oh, yeah, that makes it all better," Olivia sarcastically replied, then turned back to Aeryn. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"Olivia," Aeryn said, "It wasn't by choice. We found ourselves in the middle of a battlefield when I went into labor."
"Why did you even go into a battlefield," Olivia insisted. "You knew you were pregnant, knew that Dee would be born any day. Right?"
Aeryn sighed. "Again, this was not by choice. Yes, I knew the pregnancy would last only a few weekens, but a lot of dren was going on."
"Wait, you were pregnant for only a few weeks?"
"I was born into Peacekeeper ranks," Aeryn explained. "Imagine what would happen if female soldiers would be unavailable for several monens. All Peacekeeper females are genetically altered to make the pregnancy more efficient."
"So, you had no time to get out of danger before birth?"
"Unfortunately not," Aeryn said. "Lena, of course, was born during peace." Fake as it was, Aeryn silently added. "That was a much less stressful experience."
"Yeah, I bet," Olivia said, then studied her nephew and niece. "You both look a lot like your dad, you know," she said after a minute, her anger apparently dissipated. "Especially you," she added, pointing at Dee. "So, how old are you?"
"One hundred cycles," Dee answered. "Or about seventy-five earth years."
"You don't look seventy-five," Olivia mused. "Then again, Aeryn doesn't look like she's a hundred, either."
"There's a small difference in aging. Sebeceans, on average, live up to two hundred cycles, or hundred and fifty Earth years. Assuming they're not Peacekeepers," Aeryn explained. "Peacekeepers generally have a shorter life span."
"Wait," Jack suddenly spoke up. "If there's such a discrepancy between cycles and Earth years, had John been with you for over five cycles, before he found his way back here?"
Aeryn frowned. "No, he'd actually been there for only four cycles. A few monens short of that, actually."
"Must have been a natural time shift caused by the wormhole," Dee said. "Probably wouldn't even notice that when traveling through. Besides, didn't he first end up years earlier."
Aeryn shot a warning a glance in Dee's direction. "Dee!"
"Wait a minute," Jack said, frowning in thought. "The day he almost died in that fire, before I was scheduled to go on the Challenger mission."
Aeryn closed her eyes briefly, then explained the real circumstances of those few days in the past.
# # #
Aeryn shifted her focus from the night sky to her Nebari friend. "Hi."
"So, uhm, are you okay?"
Aeryn frowned. "Yes, why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, a lot of dren Crichton tried to keep from his family has come out."
Aeryn smiled. "Yes. I don't necessarily think it was a bad thing. They deserve to know the complete story. Or at least as complete as is necessary for them."
"Yeah," Chiana said, sitting down next to Aeryn, her eyes looking upwards.
Aeryn did the same, but could tell her friend had something on her mind. While she'd become better at it, words were still not her strong suit, so Aeryn opted to remain silent and wait until Chiana would be ready to say what was on her mind. It was moments like this that she missed John the most; even though she'd often cursed his incessant need to talk about everything, it had often helped her whenever a difficult situation arose, threatening to drive them apart.
There had been quite a few of those over the cycles they'd been married, but Aeryn knew she wouldn't have wanted any of them to not have happened. The Earth saying 'what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger' seemed very apt, as their relationship only became stronger after each hurdle they'd navigated.
"There's one thing that wasn't mentioned," Chiana suddenly spoke.
Aeryn again turned her gaze from the night sky to her friend. "Oh?"
"When... when we were here in... in Crichton's past... uhm, I, uh..." Chiana paused, swallowing nervously. "Remember I had to... to distract the younger version of him?"
Aeryn nodded, a smile threatening to come out as she knew what Chiana was going to confess.
"Well, uhm... I did." She sighed. "The only way I knew how."
"John told me," Aeryn said, allowing a little smile to show Chiana she wasn't upset. "That's why he had that weird look when you showed up wearing those Earth clothes. It was etched in his memory."
"Oh." Chiana was silent for a few microts, then grinned. "Clearly I made an impression."
Aeryn snorted. "You were his first, of course you made an impression."
"You're not upset, are ya" Chiana asked.
Aeryn shrugged. "Why should I? I knew he'd frelled other women before me."
"Yeah, but this is sorta different," Chiana said. "It was me, I knew where his heart lay, knew how you felt about him."
"Chiana, you've frelled the much younger version of the John I loved. The younger John didn't know me yet. Now, if you'd have frelled my John, I would've killed you already." Aeryn grinned, taking the sting out of her declaration. She was fairly certain she wouldn't have killed Chiana, though their friendship would most likely have ended.
Chiana actually chuckled. "Yeah, I'm not that stupid."
Both went silent again, gazes once again toward the night sky. "Of course I've used John's confession to tease him," Aeryn said. "I especially enjoyed the moments you were your usual flirting self in front of him, so that afterward I could ask him if he'd been turned on by your flirtations."
Chiana laughed. "His own fault for confessing."
# # #
One hundred cycles, Aeryn mused, laying on the bed she could no longer get out of by herself. A hundred cycles without John, a hundred cycles, or seventy-five years, lived on Earth in peace. She'd outlived John's siblings. Hell, she'd lived quite bit longer than she'd ever thought.
Her life on Earth had been different, but good. Despite Chiana's family leaving Earth after a few days - accompanied by Dee for reasons she'd only learned of years later - she'd never been alone. Her daughter had remained on Earth with her, and Aeryn had enjoyed having John's family close by, close enough for nearly weekly visits.
Dee and Chiana's family had visited several times, after having found an uninhabited, lush planet close by. Their first visit was when she found why Dee had gone with them: he'd taken a liking to Chiana's daughters and, apparently, they did to him. At first he hadn't even realized the two girls alternated between their dates, though eventually he had figured it out. He hadn't known what to do, not really sure which one he actually loved the most, but the two girls had made it easy for him, and informed him the two of them always shared everything and weren't going to stop now.
Surprisingly, at least to her, Aeryn had found a new love in her life, a young widower with two wonderful daughters. Most people had forgotten what she'd looked like, plus she'd looked older by then, so Hank hadn't even realized at first she wasn't human. Aeryn had needed a couple of months before she'd had the courage to come clean. He'd been surprised, and only then started to remember moments when Aeryn had slipped up slightly and used a non-Earth term. She'd even used a little Sebecean once, during a passionate moment.
Other than those few moments, she'd had quite easily adapted to English and Earth units. She now thought in English, almost forgotten her native Sebecean language. As close as a human she could possibly be. Except for her family, nobody knew she wasn't. She'd blended in far better than she'd expected, had never slipped up in public.
Her stepdaughters had both gone to medical school, one becoming a heart surgeon, the other a general physician. The two of them had taken care of her the past couple of years, neither of them wanting to risk having her examined by a regular doctor; the jig would've been up very quickly had she'd had to rely on someone outside her immediate family.
Lena's husband also was in the medical profession. There was quite an age difference between Andrew and Lena, Andrew still in his twenties, and Lena approaching her 150th birthday. The difference was physically visible, even though most humans would guess Lena was in her fifties. Lena never had children, and at her age, it was no longer possible. Just like with human females, Sebeceans could only bare children up to their mid forties, counted in Earth years.
Lena had never found anyone she'd been interested in to spend her life with until a few years ago, when she'd fallen for Andrew. Her daughter had been terrified, having expected it just wouldn't happen for her. The age difference had bothered her as well, even though she'd seen the way Andrew had admired her. Eventually Aeryn had invited both Andrew and Lena for a visit, not telling either that the other was going to be there.
She smiled now, knowing John would've loved the sneaky way in which she'd attempted to get her daughter romantically involved with a doctor. At least it had worked: the two of them were married not even a year later, a month after completing his residency at the hospital. Aeryn shook herself from her reverie as she heard someone call out 'mom'. She glanced to the side, smiling. "So, everything has been setup?"
Carla, her oldest stepdaughter nodded with a sad smile. "Yeah. Deb's prepared the paperwork."
Aeryn stretched out her hand and grasped Carla's hand. "It's alright. I've lived a long and happy life, much longer and happier than I had ever expected."
"I know." Carla sighed. "Mom, are you sure about this?"
Aeryn smiled again. "Sweetie, you know what would happen should anyone ever decide to check the cause of my death. We can't risk that, especially not since Lena will still be living here."
"I know," Carla said again. "But this is hard, you know? I mean, you're my mom, and Deb and I are gonna miss you."
Aeryn knew the feeling. She'd experienced it twice with John, and then again when Hank had passed away, a little over a decade ago. And in between the loss of John for the second time and Hank, she'd lost Jack, and years later, Susan and Olivia in quick succession. Aeryn turned to the other side of the bed as she felt a hand on her arm.
"You've been the best mom to us," Debra said. "You treated us as your own from the start, even when we sometimes made it difficult for you."
Aeryn smiled, remembering how her two youngest children had indeed tried a lot to make her loose her temper, trying to show their father she was a terrible person. "I did accept a lot of dren," she said, grinning slightly, knowing her two girls had loved learning the various curse words Aeryn herself had amassed over the years. At least it elicited a chuckle from both of them.
"Mom," Dee said, standing next to Debra. "If we're gonna do this, it has to be now."
Aeryn nodded. "I know." She looked around the room at her family, committing each of their faces to memory, keeping a sad smile on her face. "I love each and everyone of you," she said, cursing herself for actually choking up. She took one more look, then resolutely looked up at the ceiling. "Beam me up, Scotty," she said, unable to resist the, admittedly lame, joke. The giggles from her family was the last thing she heard from them as a transportation device her son had developed activated and transported her away from Earth to the ship that was waiting on the dark side of the moon.