Author: toadie
Rating: R
Summary: John Crichton is not the man he thinks he is.
Notes Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.’
- Friedrich Nietzsche 1886
Archiving: Please contact the author for permission.
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Black & White
Part 2

  

Chiana entered the exercise area and watched as John and Aeryn sparred.

John's face was glazed with sweat as he attempted to prevent Aeryn's blows from landing on his body. Chiana winced to see the former Peacekeeper's left boot slam into John's chest. From the look of horror that passed over his face just before impact, he had obviously anticipated the move. But he was helpless to avoid it. His grunt echoed flatly in the chamber as he flew back several feet, landing on his back with a heavy thud! 

"Damn it Aeryn! This is just supposed to be practice. You aren't supposed to be trying to kill me, you know." John gasped, as he tried to regain the breath she had just knocked out of him.  

Aeryn relaxed from her combat stance and shook her head with resignation. 

"If I don't show you how to fight properly, when you come up against a real opponent, he'll kill you even quicker than I would. You have to start trying instead of just playing at it John." She replied with exasperation in her voice, as she moved to stand over him, hands on hips. She considered just how bad John looked at the moment. It was apparent he wasn't eating enough as well as not sleeping enough.  

Well, they are his problems now. I tried to help, but he wouldn't let me. But frell me if he isn't being DAMN annoying at the moment.

John, ignorant of Aeryn's concern for his health, feigning to relax on the mat, patiently ignored Aeryn's growing looks of displeasure.

Chiana's brief laugh at this tableau before her was immediately silenced by their twin glares. A pout pulled across her mouth as she plopped down on the edge of the mat, making herself comfortable. 

"And just what do you think you're doing in here?" Aeryn asked. Turning her ire to an easier target. 

"Well... Zhaan sent me down to make sure you didn't hurt Crichton too much. After all… remember what happened the last time." Amusement coloured her voice as she said this. 

"That was John's own fault. He actually started to fight adequately and I reacted as I was trained to. And he forgot the counter move I spent arns teaching him. Besides it was only a few cracked ribs, nothing serious," Aeryn said condescendingly as she glanced at John.  

He glanced up at Aeryn and seeing that she was baiting him, shook his head resignedly as he spread his arms wide.

"Oh? Just a few ribs? I'll have you know they are my ribs and I prefer them to be in one piece, not several. 

 So I'm more than happy to have Chiana here to protect me." John laughed, irritated at Aeryn's attempt to bait him. But he decided to take the opportunity to annoy her in return by letting Chiana stay to watch.  

Even with all the annoying comments she normally came out with as Ayren was sweeping the floor with him.  

Aeryn gestured to the centre of the sparring area. "I think you've rested enough now, don't you? Let's get back to your practice. You'll need it when we reach this next commerce planet. They like to get physical with strangers to see if they can be bullied into a less than fair deal. And from that last performance of yours, we would all be lucky to escape the planet with our clothes, never mind any food or supplies." With that she walked back to the centre of the mat with the fluid grace of a leopard. 

John, with a slightly sour expression, grunted as he levered himself off the floor and started back to the middle.  

"Alright, Bruce Lee show me what you've got." John said. Aeryn was all ready in a fighting stance. John copied her and waited for her to make the first move. 

She immediately threw a punch straight for his midsection, but John's arm came down to block.  

"Nothing like starting slowly." he muttered to himself, attempting to dance away from Aeryn.  

But she immediately countered. With her other hand to hammer at his ribs. He attempted to force her to back off, by placing her on the defensive, while managing to block her blows and landing a few of his own. Aeryn, surprised by this move, tried to maintain the distance between them by backing up. John sensing an advantage, pressed harder. A vicious smile appeared on Aeryn's face, warning him that he had just made a mistake. Then, in what seemed to him to be slow motion, she halted her retreat and attacked! With feline grace she ducked under his arms and raised her knee to his groin. 

His world went grey at the edges as he fought the sudden wave of pain that forced him to his knees with a loud groan. 

Next thing he knew, Pip and Aeryn were standing over him. Chiana, with a look of sympathy, Aeryn with one of disappointment. 

"I can't believe you fell for that one. It's one of the oldest tricks and everyone knows it." Chiana said. Then with a vicious smile "Well almost everyone." 

John, feeling only pain and anger, forced himself up, shrugging off Chiana's hands as she tried to assist him to stand. His face was twisted with pain and anger in equal measures, as he straightened and looked straight at Ayren. 

"Fine, let's try it again, shall we?" He growled, his face taking on more anger as his pain faded. 

"No. I don't think so, you've had enough." smiled Aeryn warily as she regarded his face. She was uncertain of just why he was reacting so angrily to what had been an obvious move and one she had taught him to counter monens ago. 

"NOW, Aeryn!" John shouted. "I want a rematch NOW!" Fury seemed to roll off him in waves. His eyes glittered in a maniacal fashion and his breathing seemed to get deeper and hoarser with every breath. 

"Oh all right. And this time I promise not to hurt you too much." Aeryn said, condescendingly, as she rolled her eyes. 

This only elicited a growl from John and she eyed him questioningly. But she shrugged as she settled into her combat stance, putting his behaviour down to his recent problems with concentration, as well as his lack of sleep. 

The fight started slowly, with Aeryn attempting to force John back from the centre of the mat. But no matter how many times she managed to hit him, he refused to move. He started to press home this fact by forcing her to back away from him. The tempo of the fight increased with move and counter-move meeting in the space between their bodies. Aeryn began to feel disgruntled that she was on the defensive, and she employed more complex combinations of kicks and punches. He managed to block these with a skill she didn't know he had. In a risky move she lashed out at his head with her foot. The contact caused him to stumble backward slightly.  

She smiled and pressed home this advantage.

All hell broke lose in that instant. 

He attacked just as she moved in for the kill. His left foot lashed out at her midriff. She saw it coming but couldn't evade his attack. Instead she moved into it, twisting her body to minimise the contact and using her right elbow, she struck down at his left leg an instant before contact at his left leg. 

Chiana, watching all that was going on, grew increasingly worried by their actions. She winced when she heard the sharp crack! as Aeryn's elbow hit Johns thinly fleshed skin. He grunted as the blow negated much of the power behind his kick, but enough force got through that she grunted in reply and stumbled back slightly. Her expression didn't change as her arm rebounded and straightened right into John's short ribs. With her other hand she struck down into the thick muscle of his thigh which reflexively straightened, throwing him off balance. She twisted and used her right leg to sweep his remaining leg off the floor, causing him to fall. 

But instead of falling backwards as Aeryn expected, he deliberately threw his weight forward onto her legs. She crumpled beneath his weight. As she hit the mat, he completed what appeared to be a planned move, rolling to his feet facing away from Aeryn. Still crouched, he spun with his left leg extended, hitting her in the back while she was still getting up. She fell forward with a heavy thud!

John stood and moved forward. Chiana noticed that Aeryn seemed to be moving stiffly and was shocked to see blood running over her mouth from her nose.

"Not bad Commander." Aeryn growled, wiping blood from her face. "But I'd like to see you try that again!" 

John didn't reply, instead moved to attack once again. He punched at her using his longer reach to stay away from her fists. As she blocked these, a perfectly timed snap kick exploded into her stomach and she flew back, landing heavily upon the mat. She heaved herself to her knees just in time to be hit by a spin kick that took her in the side of the face. Aeryn shook her head, trying to recover from the blow. Blood trickled over a portion of the mat. 

Chiana jumped to her feet shouting, "Crichton, that's enough! Stop it!" 

John paused and looked at her, a cold smile on his face. Chiana felt herself recoil from it before he turned back to Aeryn. She had used Chiana's distraction to get to her feet. 

She started to advance cautiously toward him in a tightening circular pattern. He watched her, turning slightly to ensure that he always faced directly towards her.

Chiana by now realized that things had gone from bad to worse. These two are going to kill each other if I don't stop them. 

"D'Argo," she shouted into her com, "I need help. John and Aeryn are trying to beat each other to death. Get down here!" 

Aeryn had had enough of the stand off and moved into attack, leading with her left arm and ready with her right to block his counter-moves. But John was prepared. As she came within his reach, he grabbed her left arm and pulled her closer. Then, throwing his right elbow toward her face, he forced her to lose her balance to avoid his blow. She fell to the mat, but John still held her left arm firmly in his grip. 

Chiana heard the wet crack! of breaking bone coupled with a sharp gasp of pain from Aeryn. John released her arm. 

Chiana rushed forward, forcing herself between the two of them. "That's enough! Stop it! I don't know why you're trying to kill each other, but you're going to stop it now!" 

He regarded her impassively then turned, walking out of the exercise area whistling off-tune. Just as he was leaving, D'Argo appeared.  

The Luxon took in the sight of Aeryn lying on the mat cradling her arm with Chiana kneeling over her. John seemed relatively uninjured, but instead of helping Aeryn, he was just leaving her on the mat. 

What the Hezmanna is going on?" D'Argo asked, as tried to piece together the events that had occurred in the room before his arrival.

"I'll explain later." Chiana returned. "Call Zhaan and tell her to get down here, John broke Aeryn's arm and she may have other injuries as well." 

D'Argo shook his head in confusion and did as he was asked, but the only thought going through his mind was what the Hezmana happened!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 John walked down the corridor. Outwardly he appeared calm and in control, but inside he seethed with fury and was struggling to keep from going back to the exercise area to apologize. 

How dare she! That bitch. I should have just ripped her arm off instead of breaking it, damn Peacekeeper bitch. All she's good for is screwing up your life John. You should have left her to be retired on that damn commerce planet like D'Argo wanted in the beginning. 

As these thoughts were passing through his mind, his attitude became increasingly aggressive until to an outside observer he would have appeared to be stalking down the corridors like a panther looking for prey. 

Rygel appeared as John rounded the corner into the corridor containing his quarters. He stopped to observe, wondering just why Rygel would be near his quarters. As he watched, 

Rygel held something up to the light to examine it. He knew what it was, and he also knew it was his. His barely suppressed rage again rose to the surface. But it was a cold impersonal rage that consumed John's mind as he contemplated the scene.

"Hey Fluffy, whatcha doing?" John's voice lashed out. 

Rygel started. "What are you doing down here? I ... I thought you were having your extra training with Aeryn?" he said manoeuvring his chair to hide something he had placed in the DRD conduit. 

"Never mind what I'm doing down here 'Your Indolence.' What are you doing down here and what is that you're trying to hide?" John demanded. 

"I am the Dominar of Hyneria. I don't have to tell you anything about what I am doingggg..." Rygel gave a shout of shock as he was first pulled from his throne then thrown down the corridor, his throne sled sent flying after him. 

John knelt down and stuck his head through the opening of the DRD conduit to see the item Rygel was trying to hide from him. As he reached for it, other objects hidden in the conduit caught his eye. 

"Well, well, well, what have we here? Why this looks just like that necklace Chiana lost almost a cycle ago, and 'gasp' what is this? This looks like the bracelet I gave that bitch months ago. I'll bet she hasn't even noticed it's missing yet." 

"I can explain." Rygel claimed, in a confident tone. He scrambled back onto his throne sled and approached the human, hoping to distract him from checking any further. 

"You can? Well go ahead, Sparky. I'm all ears. Let me hear this remarkable story of yours." John said, turning to sit with his back to the entrance of the DRD conduit and blocking it from Rygel's view. 

"Well go ahead, I'm listening." John gave a little chuckle that was empty of humour and settled back. Waiting. 

"When I was coming down this corridor I noticed some DRDs behaving oddly. I came forward to see what they were up to and they dropped these things and left through the conduit. You just happened to come along as I was looking to see what they had dropped." As he was explaining this, his hands were waving about in front of his body as if trying to cast a spell over John. 

"So let me see if I have this right." John interrupted. "The DRDs stole these things and were taking them to their hideout when you interrupted them. So they dropped the loot and ran off to escape your vengeful wrath? Is that anything like what you were going to say in the next 10 microts or so?" John accompanied this speech with extravagant arm movements, aping Rygel's earlier movements. 

"Well. It's not how I would have put it, but then I am a Dominar of expression as well as of action, but essentially, yes what you described is what happened!" His blustering was starting to erode what little patience John had left. He leaned forward almost nose to nose with Rygel. 

"And you actually expect anyone to believe you? You must think we are all nuts or just stupid. Let me tell you what happened. You stole this stuff and I busted your ass. You were taking inventory before we reach the commerce planet. Planning to trade some of it, were you?' 

"Well…." Rygel huffed as he eyed John nervously. 

"And you know what's going to happen if the others find out that it's you behind all these little disappearances, don't you? They'll make you return all the stuff you've taken, then if you're lucky, they won't blow you out an airlock. And I do mean lucky." 

"I intended to give it back monens ago, but by that time I had already had it for a while and I was afraid how you would react when you found I had it. It's just that once I have something I find it hard to let it go without getting a fair price for it. I really did find some of it you know, " he whined, as he watched John consider what he had said. 

"But you didn't, and I'll bet there's more of it somewhere near here." John turned and stuck his head into the access shaft looking around. 

"Hmmm and what do I find here? I do believe this belongs to me! Do you remember that little conversation we had a while back about what I would do to you if I found you going through my stuff?" 

He pulled his head out of the access shaft as he heard Rygel's throne sled moving. A predatory smile settled over his face as he watched Rygel accelerate away from him. 

"Ah well, must be going!" Rygel called, racing off down the corridor. 

"What fun. A chase." John grinned and set off after Rygel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I am concerned for John, D'Argo," Zhaan said as they walked towards the Central Chamber. "He is getting more and more erratic, and his behaviour is becoming more violent. I need to run some medical tests on him but he refuses all offers of help, even those from Aeryn. I know he is not sleeping even half as much as he needs to."

She paused as D'Argo turned to look at her. 

"Yes I know, I have offered my help to him as befits an ally but he refused and I can't offer again. But I am confused by his actions. They make no sense. Not to mention the fact that he should not have been able to defeat a fully trained Peacekeeper at unarmed combat. I admit he has improved, but that wouldn't be hard. The youngest Luxon child could have defeated him before he started training with Aeryn." 

"Yes it is a point for concern." 

With that they entered the Central Chamber where Chiana and Aeryn were sitting eating. 

Aeryn with a disgusted look on her face regarded her injured arm. Zhaan and D'Argo fetched their food and sat at the table. Not long after they had taken their seats, John entered. 

"Hello campers, and how is everyone this fine, fine day?" The others looked up from their food cubes with expressions ranging from Chiana's amusement to Aeryn's hostility. 

"I can't believe you broke my arm. It's going to be useless for solar days until it heals." The hostility from Aeryn's voice just seemed to roll off John as he grinned at her, making no attempt to apologise for her arm. 

"There's no point trying to blame me for it. It's your own fault. After all, you taught me everything I know. You should have seen it coming and avoided it. Shouldn't you?" he said in a syrupy voice as he wandered over to the table with a stack of green food cubes. He placed the tray down opposite her and sat. Glancing up, he saw her glaring at him. With a grin, started to stretch his arms in front of her for a few microts. 

With every twist and exclamation of relief John made, her glare went up another notch. She could stand no more. Leaping to her feet, she leaned over the table at John. 

"If I had full use of my arms I would knock the dren out of you right here, right now. But since I don't, I'll leave so I'm not tempted to further injure my arm teaching you a proper lesson." Throwing her tray at him she stalked out of the mess hall. 

"What is her problem?" He asked Zhaan, his voice seemingly innocent of any understanding of what had just occurred. "So she had an accident, it happens to us all." 

"Maybe because her accident wasn't so accidental," Chiana broke in, with a glare that would have done Ayren proud. 

"Aww, Pip I'm crushed. And here I was going to give you a present. Oh, what the hell, you can have it anyway," he said, tossing Chiana the necklace he had found. 

"Where did you get this?" She exclaimed in astonishment. 

"Just found it… lying around. You know how the story goes don't you Pip?" as he said this he treated her to an exaggerated version of a sly wink. 

"You stole it? From me?" she asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowing as she considered this eventuality. 

"Of course not! Why would I do something like that?" He exclaimed with an innocent expression on his face and expansive hand gestures." 

"I don't know, I also don't know why you would break Aeryn's arm but you did, so for now I'm not discounting any possibilities." 

"Okay. For your information, I didn't steal it and she had it coming." 

"Well if you didn't steal it that piece of slime must have. I'll kill him." Chiana snapped as she rose to go and find Rygel. She was stopped short by what John said next. 

"Oh no need, I've already done that." As he said this he popped a piece of a food cube in his mouth.
The others stared at him in shock.

Zhaan was the first to speak. "John," She said carefully, "where is Rygel?" Her full attention was focused on John's face. Each regarding him like some new predator they had been warned about but never before witnessed. 

John looked around at the expressions focused on him and he felt his humor being squashed under the weight of their accusing stares. 

"Oh relax! I was only kidding. I locked the little weasel in an airlock to teach him a lesson about going through people's stuff. And for your information, he promised to return it all and apologize to everyone. He even admitted he felt guilty about doing it and had considered returning the stuff before now. But like he said, he couldn't see any profit in it and it had been sooo long since the stuff went missing, he didn't think anyone cared about it any longer." 

John realised he had been rambling. He licked his lips, apprehensively and looked for the reactions of his shipmates. 

Zhaan and Chiana heaved sighs of relief and D'Argo simply grunted at the revelation. 

"Don't you think you should let him out John?" Zhaan said. "I'm sure that he's learned his lesson by now."
John considered their reactions. He felt angry that they thought he might have actually killed Rygel.

Hell, it was just a joke. 

He fastened on this idea and his anger grew as he thought about the accusing stares he had received.

Well screw them. As this thought was passing through his mind, he heard Zhaan. 

"D'Argo, why don't you go with him," Zhaan smiled at John. As he rose and joined D'Argo, he thought, so they think I need a keeper. I'll show them. 

John and D'Argo exited the Central Chamber each full of their own thoughts. One concerned for the well-being of his ally, the other full of rage directed at everyone and everything in sight. 

"I am afraid, Chiana, that we may have a bigger problem than we first thought. That was the old John we all know for a microt there, but, then, this new John returned," Zhaan said with a sorrowful shake of her head, "I am at a loss to aid him. May the goddess protect him at this time." 

"Somehow I think it may be us that needs your goddess's protection, Zhaan," she said, recalling the look of rage that appeared on Crichton's face before he left the Central Chamber.

 

 

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