John and Aeryn
Ka D'Argo was
having problems. For starters, he was pretty sure that Rygel
had been snooping in his quarters again. Secondly, he was still
annoyed with Chiana for getting him roped into yet another of
Crichton's stupid ideas. Thirdly, he just couldn't decide, out
of the two people he'd narrowed his choices down to, who to bestow
his carefully fashioned gift upon.
He huffed and
rechecked the readings on the console in front of him. He'd come
to Command in an attempt to think, uninterrupted. Unfortunately,
once Pilot knew he was in there, he'd been assigned the task
of keeping an eye on Moya's systems. Pilot's tone had been too
authoritative for him to refuse.
A panel blipped.
D'Argo went over to see, compensated for the problem, then stood
staring at the lights and buttons for several microts. He supposed
it would be easiest to see which of his two choices gave him
something first. This also held its own problems, though. What
if he didn't get anything? What if he had to go first?
The Luxan sighed,
and, for what seemed like the fiftieth time, began to make a
mental list of attributes for each of them.
It didn't help
much. They were both, in his opinion, beautiful, intelligent,
tolerating, and, above all, saw the good in him where others
couldn't. He tried thinking of bad qualities. They both had a
tendency to talk too much and boss people around
Oh, frell it
all! he thought. He'd just go with his instincts when the time
He was just
about to check another panel when he heard voices coming from
the corridor. He strained to hear as they got closer, and then
pretended he wasn't listening when they came through the door,
argument in full swing.
John, but I just don't understand."
you think I was trying to explain it to you?"
said John, petulantly. Aeryn threw her arms up in exasperation
and moved over to another console. She threw a brief glance at
says you can go now, D'Argo, and he thanks you for helping."
The Luxan nodded
and vacated the area while it was still safe to do so without
getting caught in the crossfire. Aeryn, not looking at John,
expertly continued with what D'Argo had been doing.
don't explain. Like I give a frell"
at least humour me, Aeryn. That's all I ask."
ask?! All we ever frelling do is humour you, Crichton!"
think of a retort, so changed tactic. "Okay. So maybe I've
been taking a few liberties lately with all my Earth customs-"
She turned to face him. "They'd be liberties if you didn't
involve us. They'd be liberties if they were just personal indulgences.
But they're not. You drag us all along with you whether we're
willing or not, and it's not funny any more!"
he said, frowning, "you could just say 'no'."
Aeryn had lost
count of exactly how many times she'd tried that, but didn't
say anything about it. "It just seems like all we've done
this past cycle is what you've wanted, trying to fit around your
stupid rituals and your stupid language and mannerisms and-"
there, missy!" he shouted, trying to defend himself. She
gave him a "Well?" expression. "Before you mouth
off at me about adapting to my lifestyle, spare a couple of thoughts
for what it's like on my side of my life, okay? I got shot to
the wrong part of the damn universe and have spent the last however
many frelling cycles it is trying to adapt to life here, with
your language and customs."
she asked, unimpressed. She'd heard this particular rant far
too many times.
maybe this is payback for all the times you guys called me stupid,
or deficient, or slow, or-"
My point exactly." He gestured at her. "And anyway,
who are you to call me talkative. Anyone would be 'frelling talkative'
compared to you." He stopped. "I've forgotten what
we were even arguing about."
answer her at first. In the silence, Aeryn turned back to the
console to continue her work before Pilot wondered what was going
on. "No, wait, I do remember."
do enlighten me," she prompted, sarcastically. He ignored
her tone of voice.
you weren't going to participate after all."
So I did. And then you blew up about it." She smirked, enjoying
not bl-" He stopped, took a deep breath, and tried again.
"Yeah. Okay. I did. And as usual, between us, the whole
thing gets yanked completely out of proportion. But I still maintain
that you can't go back on what you said. Even Crais is still
going ahead with it, for God's sake."
pull the Crais line on me, John. You know it doesn't work."
A sigh. "I know you were only trying to give us all something
to do, but unlike most of the other things you've described,
this seems completely pointless."
it have to have a point?" As anticipated, he received her
"human nonsense" look in response. "Actually,
it does have a point. As I explained in the first place."
She seemed vaguely satisfied with that answer. "Come on,
Aeryn. Just help me out on this one, and I promise not to inflict
any more of my Earth crap on you again"
He put on his
very best lost-puppy face (even though the metaphor was probably
something very strange in the Uncharteds) and she finally conceded,
smiling. "Fine. But this is the last time."
Aeryn rolled her eyes and returned to her work a second time.
"Now remember, one present only. You've only got the rest
of today to sort it out, so look sharp."
She was learning
to ignore microbe hiccups. "Where will everybody be?"
right after dinner. Be there or be square."
he bounded out of the door, leaving Aeryn to think about her
own gift. John, of course, had been prepared for monens.