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Chapter Eight

D'Argo, 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 came.

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.

"I'm sorry, John, but I just don't understand."

"Why do you think I was trying to explain it to you?"

Aeryn sighed. "Fine. Explain."

"No," said John, petulantly. Aeryn threw her arms up in exasperation and moved over to another console. She threw a brief glance at D'Argo.

"Pilot 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.

"Fine, don't explain. Like I give a frell"

"You could at least humour me, Aeryn. That's all I ask."

"All you ask?! All we ever frelling do is humour you, Crichton!"

John couldn't think of a retort, so changed tactic. "Okay. So maybe I've been taking a few liberties lately with all my Earth customs-"

"Liberties?" 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!"

"You know," 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-"

"Whoa, 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."

"And?" she asked, unimpressed. She'd heard this particular rant far too many times.

"And well maybe this is payback for all the times you guys called me stupid, or deficient, or slow, or-"

"Frelling talkative?"

"Yeah. 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."

"Does it matter?"

John didn't 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."

"Oh, please, do enlighten me," she prompted, sarcastically. He ignored her tone of voice.

"You said you weren't going to participate after all."

"Oh, yes. So I did. And then you blew up about it." She smirked, enjoying provoking him.

"I did 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."

"Don't 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."

"Does 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."

"Thanks." 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?"

"The Terrace, right after dinner. Be there or be square."

With that, he bounded out of the door, leaving Aeryn to think about her own gift. John, of course, had been prepared for monens.

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