DISCLAIMER: Farscape and its characters are the property of Jim Henson Co., Hallmark Entertainment, SciFi Channel and Rockne O. Bannon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Susan P
The ship was quiet. As quiet as it ever got. Most of its inhabitants were enjoying their sleep-cycle. She could hear Rygel softly snuffling in his chamber--the Hynerian equivalent of snoring, it seemed. Every so often D'Argo would shift in his bed or mumble something in his sleep. John and Aeryn were either sleeping peacefully, or their rooms were far enough away that she couldn't hear every little sound or movement.
She could hear Moya, however. Living aboard a pregnant Leviathan was proving to be rather an interesting experience. They had survived all the difficulties so far: the early part of the gestation during which Moya had seemed to turn against them all, the difficulties with Starburst, the very 'splitting' of the ship into a number of alternates. Even now, since things had stabilized somewhat, she noticed a difference.
She had been trying to meditate, but she was having difficulty concentrating. Everything was a potential distraction: the noises that Rygel and D'Argo made as they slept, the sounds of the great ship, the very air against her exposed skin. She had considered moving to the Terrace, but doubted that a change in locale would make a difference. Something didn't seem quite right.
Ever since Pilot had declared that Moya was nearing the time she would give birth, the ship's rhythms had changed again. But that was not what was troubling her. The sounds and even the feel of the ship since then were actually rather soothing. It almost seemed as if mother and fetus had passed into the most stable part of the gestational period.
And yet, she was uneasy. She thought over their last 'adventure.' It had been troubling to have Moya again occupied by Peacekeepers, to again be locked in that cell, even temporarily. It had affected D'Argo as well, she could tell by the mumblings he made in his sleep. Troubling as that part of the experience had been, it was the virus that had disturbed her the most. Having the touch of a healer, the very thought of a virus--a disease--possessing intelligence, and a will of its own, was profoundly disturbing to her. Then there were the disturbing changes in Crichton's behavior while he was infected. There had been signs--moments when his actions, his demeanor had just seemed...wrong. Then he had struck her, and she knew. That was far less troubling than the thought that the virus had controlled him so completely that he had killed under its influence--something she knew was not in his nature.
Then there had been Aeryn's stabbing. She had almost lost the young Sebacean. 'Peacekeeper' her mind whispered, even now. And yet she had fought to save Aeryn. She had come to care for her, in spite of everything. And John's worry had been palpable--radiating from him in waves. Not quite as loud as a Paddac beacon, but no less obvious. It had been so distracting that she had to send him from the room until she finished.
Aeryn had recovered quickly, and things had returned to relative 'normality' in the past few days.
Still, there was something troubling her. She had no real fears for D'Argo's emotional health, or for Rygel's or Aeryn's recovery. She was a bit worried about John's crisis of conscience, but even that was only a mild concern. It was something else.... Something...
And then she heard it. Soft, at first, and far away. It rose in volume, slightly. A voice. Not D'Argo or Rygel. It was...distinctly feminine. Aeryn?
She grabbed her robe and was halfway out the door of her quarters before she even began putting it on. D'Argo showed no signs of wakefulness, and she heard no comments from Rygel about her 'naked blue extremities' as she passed. She assumed she was still the only one awake on board.
Almost. She had just managed to fasten the seal of her robe as she drew near Chiana's chamber, and she saw a still half-asleep John rounding the corner. Chiana was still whimpering, still asleep. She held up a hand, "It's all right, John. Go back to sleep."
He murmured a sleepy, "sure?" even as he was turning to go back.
The whimpering grew louder then, and became coherent as she slipped into Chiana's room.
"N-no! Get away from me. No...Don't..."
Zhaan sat next to the young woman and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, shaking her slightly. "Chiana. Chiana, wake up."
The young woman struggled more, knocking the hand away and bringing her arms up in defense, as she cried out, "No!" She sat up then, wild-eyed for a moment until she saw Zhaan and seemed to come to herself. "Zhaan?"
"I'm here, Chiana. You were dreaming. A nightmare, from the sound of it."
"N-nightmare... Y-yea. Just a nightmare." She met Zhaan's eyes then, "I-I'll be all right."
She could almost see the mask falling into place. She could have walked away then--taken Chiana at her word. But the young woman had seemed so frightened a moment before, an almost child-like terror marring her features. She was beginning to suspect, however, that the source of Chiana's nightmare was no mere childhood distress. And the other woman had edged closer to her, though seemingly unaware of that fact. Some vague suspicions she had had about the girl were beginning to come into focus, and she realized that Chiana had been the source of her unease this night.
She took a moment to study those black eyes. They were unfocused, though seeming to stare somewhere past her right shoulder. She hadn't spoken again--hadn't tried to reassure her or send her away.
She decided to take a chance, though she knew she would have to be careful. "Chiana. You look troubled."
The reaction had been almost automatic. She was sure Chiana had intended to push her away, but she hadn't. Not yet.
"I--I should let you get back to bed." Her voice was flat, unconvincing, unconvinced.
"I was not sleeping. And I was having difficulty meditating." She again put a hand on the young woman's shoulder. Her nightshirt had all but slipped off and Zhaan felt the contrast between the coolness of the fabric and the warm expanse of skin under her hand. "Chiana. It might ease your mind to talk about it."
The young woman swayed even closer. "That--that Peacekeeper. I was dreaming about him. It must have been before he transferred the virus to me. He--he was coming after me. He had a gun. I was...I couldn't get away. I was afraid. I thought he was going to kill me. Or..."
"Or worse." Her meaning had been clear, even without giving voice to the thought.
"When he...when he had me by the throat, his look changed. It was wild...hungry. Even before the virus got loose, I could tell he wanted me. I--I was afraid he..."
The girl was becoming more agitated. There was something else, she could tell. But how to draw her out? She took a chance and moved her hand from Chiana's shoulder. She reached up to cup her chin and turned her face until their eyes met. "Chiana?"
She looked almost startled for a moment, whether at the touch, or the realization that she was still there, Zhaan wasn't sure.
"He didn't hurt me--the Peacekeeper. The dream...there was more. Zhaan, since I ran from my people...I've..." She turned her face away then, but Zhaan didn't have to see to know there was shame in those dark eyes.
Zhaan let her hand drop, and it settled on the young woman's knee. Chiana all but jumped at the contact, and her eyes were riveted to Zhaan's hand.
"I mean you no harm, Chiana."
The young woman just nodded, once. She turned her head slightly, but still wouldn't meet her eyes. "I've done things, Zhaan. I've used whatever I had to. Let people use me. Did what I had to to survive." Her voice was flat, unemotional. Almost as if she spoke of someone else--of something that didn't matter.
"Chiana. The dream," she prodded, gently.
"I--I've used seduction to get by when I could. I even spent some time in a house of women who...sold themselves. Didn't last long there, though. Most of the time, I can trick my way out of... You know."
She took a chance and leaned in closer. "But?"
She shuddered. "Once, when I was stuck on some planet I'd rather forget, I... There was this freighter pilot. I was trying to work him for passage off that dren-hole. He--he took me back to his room. But...he had...friends...." She was shaking violently now, holding herself and rocking back and forth.
She looked up at the older woman, wild-eyed and panicked as though re-living it. Even in the dark, she could see the girl's tears. "They... I couldn't.... They... I let them..."
"Chiana!" She all but shouted it to get the young woman's attention--to stop her self-recriminations. Once Chiana looked at her--finally seemed to see her, she opened her arms in invitation. "Dear Chiana..."
She was surprised at the ferociousness with which the young woman latched onto her. Even more surprised by her own reaction. She had meant to go easy, and gently slip her arms around the young woman. But she was soon gripping the young woman almost as tightly as Chiana held her. Now they were both rocking. And she was stroking the smaller woman's back.
"Do not blame yourself, dear one. You were only guilty of choosing the wrong person to ask for help. They wronged you. You did nothing wrong."
She held the young woman, stroking her back, her hair. Long moments passed between them before the young woman's sobs quieted, and she stilled. More time passed before she relaxed her grip on Zhaan somewhat.
"I need... I don't want..." She made a small noise, then pulled back slightly to look at her. "Would you...stay?"
That had cost her, Zhaan knew. "Of course, my dear."
She rose slightly, then slipped beneath the bedcover to lie on the narrow bed. Chiana shifted also, and soon they were lying side-by-side, facing one another. She again took the young woman in her arms.
Chiana snuggled close, and to her surprise, the young woman slid an arm through the opening of her robe and across her bare back, holding her closer. "Thank you," she mumbled, already sounding sleepy.
"Get some sleep, little one. I will be here."
She listened as the woman's breathing became regular. In sleep, she snuggled even closer, using Zhaan's arm as her pillow. As she slipped into sleep herself, she knew what had kept her so wakeful and aware before.
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