DISCLAIMER: We all know I own nothing, and I make no money from writing fanfic. The Jim Henson Co., Hallmark Entertainment, SciFi Channel, Rockne O. Bannon, and a bunch of others are the wonderful people who created (and own) this show, these settings, and the characters.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't know why I have the occasional obsession with the Aeryn/Zhaan dynamic of Farscape. It's just something that pops into my mind now and again, and this is one of those things I just had to write down when it came to me. And now, despite it still being a bit unpolished, I'm sharing it with you <g>. Hope you enjoy.
SPOILERS: Major ones for Wait for the Wheel I & II, minor ones for all of seasons one and two.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
WARNING: Canon character death.

Slowly Fading Memories
By ocean gazer


I dreamed about Zhaan again last night. It disturbs me that I still do.

I'm not usually prone to dreams. None of us Sebaceans are. And for Peacekeepers, especially, dreaming is considered a bad habit, one that we should endeavor at all costs to break. Being a tough and practical Peacekeeper – the traits I'd so prided in myself – dreams were something I studiously ignored, on the rare occasions that I had them. In my years of service, I'd just about decided that they only plagued people with actual imaginations. And yes, I always considered both dreams and imagination to be a plague. They distracted people from their duty, and I thought life was about duty.

I worked hard every solar day, turned off what little imagination I had left, and focused all my energy and attention on my role and my rank. And when I went to bed, I slept soundly and dreamlessly. Even the atrocities I'd seen didn't come back to haunt me in the still hours of the night. I thought – with what I think now is the conviction of the very stupid or the very young – that what we did was for the right. I thought that the ends always justified the means, and that my hands were clean because I was simply following my orders.

It never occurred to me then to wonder about the cleanliness of my soul. That was the type of thinking best suited to weaker people – meaning anyone who, for whatever reason, didn't want to pick up a weapon and patrol the territories keeping order. It's one of the many, many things that have changed about me in the last two cycles.

When I first came aboard Moya, I had no interest in being there or any intention of staying for long. All I wanted was to run away somewhere, away from the corrupting influence of aliens, away from the memories of my shame. Somewhere where I could salve my wounds and find some way to convince Crais and my former squad that I was still a Peacekeeper, that I wasn't contaminated.

I was confused – full of rage and a bitter sense of betrayal. It wasn't that I thought I was wrong, precisely, in speaking up for Crichton. To this day, I don't regret what I did, no matter how many times I've wished things had turned out differently, no matter how often I railed against Crichton and the others for forcing me to become a deserter – a traitor to my old cause. It's just … I couldn't imagine any other life than the one I'd led, couldn't imagine any greater satisfaction than being a dutiful fighter pilot, a dutiful Peacekeeper. I had come aboard resentfully, smug in the certainty that these prisoners would soon be re-captured, and yet despairing in the knowledge that the best part of my life was over.

I never could have guessed I'd be wrong on both counts.

Of course, not to sound boastful or anything, a good part of our success in eluding capture has been because of me – because I know Peacekeeper tactics and patrol routes. But had I not stayed aboard, I now have confidence that the others would still have managed to remain free. Alone, none of us would have had a chance. But working together, our strengths and weaknesses complement each other.

Crichton and D'Argo – well, they're obviously fellow warriors and tacticians. While I never would have believed it from non-Sebaceans, the three of us fight well as a team and generally can agree on a plan of action. Not always, mind you, but we usually can find some kind of common ground upon which to act. Crichton is quite a bit less skeptical than D'Argo or I, but he's not without his reasons, even if some of those reasons are simply that he's stranger to this place, to these territories.

Rygel and Chiana – well, I still tend to think of both of them as essentially useless. They have a knack both for getting us into trouble and disappearing when there's any real work to be done. But fairness compels me to admit that their scheming natures have come in handy a time or two. And when shove comes to push (or whatever the idiotic phrase of Crichton's is) they have proved that they can be useful, that they can put their own selfishness and greed aside for the good of everyone. It doesn't happen often, but the capacity is there.

Pilot, of course, is absolutely essential to keeping Moya on course and in getting the information we need. Without him, we never would have come this far, survived this long. I still am more than a bit uncertain about Stark, though I suppose he too has had his moments of usefulness. It's just that – well – I can't quite understand what he's after, what is really going on under his surface. It's hard for me to trust people in general, and even harder when I don't have any clear sense of their motivations. Or when I suspect their motives are not nearly as pure as they say they are.

And, of course, that brings me to Zhaan. At first, I had no idea what to make of her. She was a convicted and self-confessed murderer, but one who decided to pursue the Delvian Seek and become a priest. That just didn't make any sense. In my world, the world of the Peacekeepers, a body was either good or bad, worthy or unworthy, "us" or "them". And the mere idea of altruism and kindness as motives for acting go against everything I was ever taught. Individuals do things because they benefit from them. But Zhaan often acted in ways that did not benefit her, at least not as far as I could see anyhow. It wasn't until I saw her darker side –saw the rage and the ill-temper she worked so hard to keep in check – that I really came to trust her.

It was in knowing what she struggled against that led me to value the gentler path she chose to walk. She was, in many ways, our soul, our conscience. And now, now she's gone.

I never could have imagined feeling this bereft at the loss of a comrade. I've lost squad mates my entire life and rarely ever shed a tear, no matter how many cycles we'd served together. Even when I turned in the man I think I might have loved – when I handed him over to the Peacekeepers because I thought he was a traitor – I didn't mourn long. I squared my shoulders, demanded the assignment I'd been promised if I turned him over, and threw myself into my work.

Of course, at the time I was pretty much a stranger to my feelings, so I wasn't really aware of loving him. Even now, I struggle with the presence of emotions; they're still mostly unfamiliar to me. But it's been twelve solar days since Zhaan sacrificed herself to save all the rest of us. And I find myself actually dripping tears now and again in the privacy of my own quarters.

Logically – which is the way I've been bred to look at situations and problems – I know it was the best choice, if not the only choice. Zhaan was dying and there seemed to be little we could do for her. Better to die quickly and doing something to help others than to die slowly, starving away. Better to sacrifice the terminal patient than to allow someone full of life to die needlessly. It was the only rational choice. And had it been my decision, it's what I would have done. Zhaan knew it too, which is why she made the choice she did. She went to her death willing – I know that.

But for the first time in my life, knowing doesn't help. It doesn't change how I feel, or help me deal with my feelings. It's odd. I spent my entire life learning to suppress my emotions, having them drilled out of me, learning to ignore them until I barely knew I had them. And yet in just two cycles, I've managed to break down practically every wall around my heart I'd ever built.

I'm not sure how much the others see it. I know they have seen some change in me, but I think my reputation for being stone-cold still pretty much stands. Crichton, of course, has seen quite a bit of what lies under my surface. But he still doesn't quite understand what a big shift I've made, how different I am now. He still can't quite get past my unemotional decision making and my general disinterest in being nice. And the others don't see any of the emotional stuff inside me … all they see is the big bitch in boots who would rather shoot than ask questions.

In many ways, for all that Zhaan and I are complete opposites, she was the only one who saw – really saw – me. She's the only one who saw beyond the surface, who saw the woman as well as the façade, and who understood that both aspects were a part of me. She's the only one who saw both the darkness and the small rays of light, who completely accepted me as I am.

And more – she accepted me for what she saw that I could be.

That's partly what hurts me about losing her. The two of us had a rough path in the beginning. Very rough. Had she not been so devoted to the Seek and to her priestly path, she probably would have killed me in the early days because I was a symbol of those who imprisoned and tortured her. And when she saw that tape in which my part in Pilot's forced blending with Moya became known, her rage nearly overwhelmed her. It wasn't just because of what I did to him, but because of the possibility that I had a role in what was done to every one of them, save Crichton and Chiana.

And I have to admit that she got under my skin in a bad way because I didn't understand her and couldn't figure out what her motives were. I was convinced her devotion to the priesthood was just a scam to convince her jailors to release her. And I thought her focus on peaceful philosophy was just some bizarre game she was playing to achieve her own ends.

But as we both broke out of our pasts, as we both found new roles and new paths, we found some degree of common ground, and some degree of mutual respect. Though we never actually defined it, I suppose we'd become friends. I hadn't really thought much about it before her death. She was just a part of our lives here on Moya. She was someone I could count on for sympathy, someone I could count on to heal my wounds, someone I could trust to support me. And I tried in what little ways I knew how to be someone she could trust to watch her back, someone she could count on to protect her teammates and to protect Moya. But we never really talked about what that meant, or what we meant to each other.

I hope, I really hope, she knew what I could never say. I hope she knew she had my respect. And I hope that she knew that – in my own way – I loved her. It's hard for me to even admit that to myself. The notion of love – apart from love of job or love of duty – is something that I was taught was dangerous, was a distraction. Even the love of friendship was considered to be a liability. I've spent so much of my life suppressing any hint of personal feelings that I still barely know how to express them. A person would have to look hard at my actions – to see what I do, not what I say.

The one thing that still haunts me about Zhaan's death is that I don't know if she knew that I cared about her, almost as much as I care about Crichton. But I think … I think she knew. She must have known. She shared Unity with me, after all – linked her mind to mine to call me back from death.

She gave her energy to me – freely – even knowing she was sacrificing herself. I was angry, so angry, when I knew what she'd done. I'm just a common soldier; I'm someone expendable. She was someone special. I didn't think I deserved life at the cost of hers. I still don't. And I expect that the guilt will probably eat at me until the day I die. But it's tempered just a bit by knowing she acted of her own free will.

I never asked for anything from her – especially not that – and I only did what I know she wanted me to do. She never actually verbalized it, but I heard it in her mind, in her heart. She wanted me to take the gift she was offering. And so I did. I still don't think my life was worth her death. But I don't think either of us really thought she'd die because of it. I didn't know just how weak she was at that point. And I think she was trusting that she'd be able to hold on until we could find what she needed to survive. Unfortunately, everything else got in the way.

She did it because she loved me. And I accepted because, even if I couldn't say the words, I loved her. She must have known that. She was in my mind, in my heart, in my soul. There's no way she could have missed the feelings that were there. As I realize that, as I come to terms with the truth of it, I feel as though a weight is lifting from my shoulders. Not that my grief at her death is gone, because it's not. But it's just a little easier to bear knowing the truth that she knew my heart, that she knew those things I'd left unsaid. It helps to know I don't have to regret leaving so many things unspoken.

I hope I dream of Zhaan tonight. It comforts me that I still do.

The End

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