Title: Thoughts On A Man II
Author: Karolyn Gray <kmgray3@aol.com>
ScifiBB/Chat Handle: Gray3
Rating: G
Synopsis: Post Jeremiah Crichton scene from Aeryn's POV.
Spoilers: Jeremiah Crichton
Archiving: Yes
Disclaimers: All Farscape names, characters and other related indicia are the property of Jim Henson Productions, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Networks, the Scifi Channel and all associated parties. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thoughts On A Man II
by Karolyn Gray

As I walk beside Zhaan on the way to the docking bay, I cannot help wonder at the apprehension I feel at this moment. We found Crichton and now he was actually coming aboard in the pod with D'argo and Rygel. This knowledge should have settled me, but I find it does not. If anything I feel more uncertain with each passing moment.

A few arns ago when Crichton's Farscape module was brougt aboard I had made sure to be in the bay certain Crichton would be there with his precious ship. I was surprised to discover he was still down on the planet finalizing matters with the local populace.

It was just as well, I suppose. At that time I hadn't decided whether to welcome him back or strangle him for the last quarter cycles hunt for him.

No. No, that is not true. I know exactly what I wanted to do. The intensity of that desire surprised me. Still surprises me at this very moment.

I cannot deny I have missed Crichton greatly. Me? Miss Crichton? I still can't believe it myself, but it is true. Somehow, someway that annoying little scientist from earth had come to mean more to me than I care to even admit to myself.

And therein lies the turmoil I now feel. A quarter cycle is a great deal of time to reflect upon ill chosen words and actions quite thoroughly, even despite my intent to stay focused as only a Peace Keeper can on the goal of finding Crichton.

I know D'argo used his knowledge of what he saw occur between John and I when he rescued us from the Flax to subtly persuade me to support him in the nearly daily debates to continue the search. I should be offended at that, but I am not. We both had our reasons for continuing the search. All of them selfish.

I know D'argo will feel that he owes me some debt out of his Luxan honor for supporting him. I'm not sure he even realizes I feel the same way towards him now. His unwavering devotion to find Crichton only bolstered my own determination, even after we had located Crichton on this backwater world.

In spite of my single-minded determination there were still too many silent moments, times in which to reflect on why he departed as he had. I admit having done more than my fair share of this pondering. Questioning whether it was I, my actions or, more properly, my inactions, that had helped drive him away from us.

I glance over to Zhaan as we reach the final turn that leads to the bay and cannot help but envy her serenity. Despite her constant reminder that our hunt for Crichton placed them in danger of being captured by the Peace Keepers, I know she has missed the human as much as the rest of us.

I remember the one time I had broached the subject with her, she had given me a strange smile that I still do not comprehend and simply stated: 'John would understand.' Something in the way she looked convinced me that she was right. Crichton would not have wanted us to risk ourselves for him.

But we did it anyway. I did it. Defied my upbringing, my heritage, my training, everything to search for a quarter cycle for some primitive human. And I'm still not entirely certain why.

I care, yes. That much I will admit. I have had few in my life that I've cared about, but even then I do not think I would have sacrificed this much for something so intangible. Yes, I am no longer a Peace Keeper. That much is all too clear to me now. Strange, but it doesn't bother me as it once did.

I allow Zhaan to proceed me through the bay doors, more to allow myself a moment to make sure I have myself under control, no show of weakness or the nervousness that had now settled into my stomach in a way that I find annoying.

And now I see him stepping from the transport pod. For a moment he seems happy, it is hard to tell with that beard covering his face. As Zhaan and I get closer I can see his expression change to one of wonder, as if he's comparing Zhaan or myself to his own memories and finding them lacking.

Zhaan moves forward to greet him, allowing me a moment to look him over. I recognize the nervousness in his stance as I look him over, for I feel much the same way.

He has changed. He's leaner, his skin tanned to deal with the sun and elements of Acquara, no doubt. He seems older, though I imagine that is more due to the growth on his face than any actual stress he may have endured on the planet. As I expected his clothes are old and worn.

I know I'm just delaying the inevitable greeting between us. I use my interest in his physical condition to ignore the real question that has been in my thoughts since his disappearance. But I find I cannot give words to those thoughts. After all this time, I'm still not ready.

But I need to know how he feels about us. About me. Did he really mean all those things he said so long ago? Or was it simply a moment of anger?

"You look like dren, Crichton." I say trying to sound cool and calm, while two disparate parts of me wage an internal conflict over whether to kiss him or kill him. It's not what I really wanted to say after all this time, but it seems to be enough. The sudden glimmer in his eyes is enough to convince me of that.

"Yeah, yeah. I smell like it, too." He replies, the laughter in his voice instantly dissipates the tension I had been feeling.

I blow a buff of air in mock derision at that comment, seeing his tension has also drained away. There are still some issues between us, but we have at least past the first obstacle.

I make a pointed show of looking him over before speaking again.

"Go get cleaned up, Crichton. We'll unload the cargo. And shave that..." I wave my hand vaguely at his beard with a look of distaste "...thing...off your face." As a Peace Keeper I have never had much interest in male facial hair affectations but Crichton's beard truly is horrid looking on him.

Crichton laughs suddenly and holds up his hands as if to surrender to me. "OK, ok."

He starts to walk past me and I am acutely conscious of his presence. A part of me is relieved that he is leaving so I may regroup for our next encounter and yet a larger part of me is regretful that we did not say more.

He pauses beside me as if sensing I want to say more, but cannot. I can feel much the same from him. I remain perfectly still as he leans towards me slightly. For a brief moment I an uncertain what to expect from him but in the next moment know his exact words for they are my own thoughts.

'I missed you.'

"I missed you too, Aeryn." He says in a low, soft voice that I know Zhaan and D'argo cannot hear.

And then he is gone, faster than I can even think of something to say in return. Understanding me better than I do myself even after this period of separation. It is one of the reasons I love him.

Love? Did I just...

I see D'argo looking at me with an amused expression. I wonder briefly at that look, then shake my head to clear my mind. It is a vain effort for I know thoughts of Crichton will linger there.