Rating: NC-17
Pairings: Scorpius/Crichton, Crais/Crichton, Scorpius/Crais, Crichton/Stark, reference to Crais/OM
Warnings: Non-consensual extreme sex, rape, coercion/seduction, drug use, torture, violence, language, graphic m/m sex. Please note that not all of the story contains all of these subjects, and a few of them are simply descriptions of what happened on screen.
Author's Notes: The original 'The Red and the Black', finally in HTML format.
Summary: Scorpius enjoys his job far too much, and Crichton interacts with an old acquaintance...
Spoilers: Set during Nerve/The Hidden Memory/Bone to be Wild/Family Ties & early second season. Contains some script excerpts from those episodes.
Originally started 1/29/00

The Red and the Black
by Penemuel

Memories; painfully ripped from his mind and displayed for all to see -- John Crichton cringed internally when the image changed to one of him lying in the Peacekeeper cell, his head in Stark's lap as the man gently stroked his hair and tried to calm him. He was shivering and twitching, lingering remnants of his earlier sessions in the Aurora Chair; his eyes unfocused, attention turned inward.

"I hate that frelling bastard," he was whispering, "something about the way he stares at me..."

Suddenly the pain diminished and the Chair slowed, finally spinning to a stop right in front of Scorpius, the 'frelling bastard' in question. Vaguely Crichton realized Scorpius had given the signal to stop the chair, and was now studying him closely.

"What?" Crichton asked, trying to blink away the tears that were still uncontrollably streaming from his bloodshot eyes. "You know, somewhere there's a sideshow desperately searching for one of their freaks," he spat as the close scrutiny made him increasingly uncomfortable.

"I think that's enough for today," Scorpius said to his aide as he continued to study Crichton. A cruel smile spread across his face, then, and he licked his papery lips before adding, "Have him brought to my office." He savoured the fear that flashed across Crichton's features then; inhaled its scent and reveled in what he sensed it was doing to Crichton. Something about the human's terror was quite appealing...

Before Crichton could say anything more, Scorpius turned and walked away, and two Peacekeeper guards unstrapped him. Desperation sparked by some unknown fear propelled him to his feet -- he actually made it two steps before his knees buckled and unceremoniously dumped him face-first on the hard floor.

The guards took an arm each and hauled him upright. Looking at each other over his bowed head, they shrugged and dragged him along between them when it became obvious he couldn't make himself walk.


At a signal from Scorpius, the guards dumped Crichton roughly into a chair, then saluted and hurried from the room without another word. Scraping together what remained of his strength, Crichton raised his head and looked at Scorpius, instantly wishing he hadn't. He wasn't sure how, but the alien seemed to have an uncanny ability to read him -- from the first instant Scorpius had seen him and known that he was an imposter. Now he couldn't even make himself look away, those inhuman eyes piercing his soul.

There was only one way to deal with this situation... "You lookin' at me?"

"Bravado will get you absolutely nothing, Crichton," Scorpius said, his tone so smug it made Crichton wish for the energy to punch his face in. "You Humans are a most interesting species," Scorpius continued, walking closer to the chair Crichton sat in.

Desperate to seem stronger than he currently felt, Crichton pulled himself upright and tried to control the shivers and twitching that prolonged exposure to the Chair seemed to cause. "You keep saying that," he said nonchalantly, praying Scorpius couldn't sense the hairs on the back of his neck rise as the alien walked behind him; "but I'm not really sure why...We're obviously pretty much like Sebaceans--"

He started badly as Scorpius' voice came from directly behind him, "On the outside, yes, you are similar -- but there are great differences that I look forward to exploring."

I don't like the sound of that... Crichton thought, refusing to turn to look at Scorpius and therefore give him even more of the advantage.

"You needn't hide it," Scorpius purred, close enough now that Crichton felt the heat of his body on his back, "You're afraid of me -- you don't know what I'm after." The alien walked around the chair now, and leaned down so that he was nose to nose with Crichton. "I'm going to discover every one of your secrets, not only those in your mind..."

I got a bad feeling about this... Crichton thought, looking not for the first time at Scorpius' black lizard-leather outfit and repressing a shudder. Creepy guys in leather fetish outfits I can do without! He pulled his head back as far as he could, trying to put some space between them, and said, "Well, it's no secret -- I don't have a paraphoral nerve, and I handle heat much better than a Sebacean. Can I go now?" He put his hands on the arms of the chair and made a move to push himself to his feet, only to be stopped by a strong hand on his chest, pressing him back into the chair.

"Yes, those are some of the differences," Scorpius agreed, "but I intend to discover them all..." Straightening so that he stood over Crichton now, the alien smiled and began to run his hand over Crichton's chest, feeling the muscles through his t-shirt; feeling the heat through the thin fabric and his gloves; feeling Crichton's heart pounding in his chest as his fear increased. He could see Crichton trying to hide the horror in his expression and his smile grew darker as the human nearly succeeded -- except for the widening of his eyes and the flare of his energy signature. "Yes," he murmured, intrigued, "most interesting..."

"Let me go," Crichton demanded, his voice nowhere near as steady or firm as he had wanted it to sound. A shiver ran through him as Scorpius continued to touch him, the hairs on his arms standing up as goosebumps rose on his skin. His fear had triggered the fight-or-flight reaction, but Scorpius was strong enough to hold him in place with just that one hand.

On his chest.

Feeling a nipple.

Oh shit!

"Whoa! Okay, now, that's enough of that," he said quickly, trying to pull away and knowing that the chair he sat in would not allow him to back through it. "It may just be because you're an alien, but on Earth people just don't do that without asking..."

Scorpius smiled down at him, and he could feel his heart leap into his throat as the alien answered, "I can do anything that I wish to do to you..." The hand moved away for a moment, then Scorpius grabbed his shirt collar with both hands and ripped his shirt open.

"Okay, that's it!" Crichton yelled, somehow finding the strength to jump up and push Scorpius back enough for him to get out of the chair. Momentum and adrenaline propelled him forward, roaring and shouldering into the alien, the two of them crashing into Scorpius' desk. Before he even realized it, his hands were around the alien's throat, squeezing with every ounce of strength he had left, sheer anger keeping him on his feet.

To his horror, despite an attack that would have given most humanoid life forms pause, Scorpius brought his hands up and grabbed Crichton's wrists, then pulled his hands away from his throat with frightening ease. Once free, the alien straightened, pushing Crichton back and squeezing his wrists so hard he could feel the bones grinding against each other; smiling as Crichton's legs buckled and a whimper escaped him. "I'm glad you decided to fight. A Sebacean would..." He could see Crichton still trying to fight him, despite the fact that he fell to his knees with a grunt of pain. "Your will impresses me, Human," Scorpius purred, "The fire of your spirit is quite...stimulating."

"Oh god..." Crichton groaned, sickened, knowing he was defeated; still fighting because his pride would not allow him to stop. Suddenly, Scorpius shoved him to the side, sending him sprawling on the cold, hard floor. All he could do was lie there, gasping for breath and wishing desperately for the strength to even crawl away.

Scorpius walked to where he lay and stood over him, looking down at Crichton with an expression of anticipation that terrified him. Powerless to stop the alien, Crichton squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable. The next thing he knew, Scorpius was straddling his hips and returning to his earlier explorations, this time using both gloved hands to stroke and probe. "Oh god...no..." Crichton whispered, turning his head to one side and opening his eyes to stare off into the middle distance. "Please, no..."

"Where is your fire, now, Crichton?" Scorpius asked, intrigued by the physical changes he could see and feel in the human.

"You know damned well where it is," Crichton answered angrily. "You try fighting someone after that many sessions in your frelling chair!" He looked back up at Scorpius and instantly wished he hadn't, the alien's expression an obscene mixture of lust and scientific curiosity. He tried to unseat Scorpius, trying to roll to one side and buck him off, only to feel the strong legs tightening around him. "Let me go!"

"Well," Scorpius murmured, continuing to stroke his chest, pausing to pluck at tightening nipples, "You certainly lack the physical discipline of a Sebacean -- your body is responding to me despite your hatred of me." He shifted his position so that he sat directly over Crichton's crotch and smiled darkly. "On the other hand, you seem to be more physically...gifted."

"Stop it!" Crichton gasped, "Get. Off. Me!" With one last burst of adrenaline, he tried to buck Scorpius off again, nearly succeeding before the alien swung a fist into the side of his head and stars exploded behind his eyes...


...Awareness slowly returned; small parts of reality filtering through at a time. He realized he was lying on what seemed to be a barely padded ship bunk, cold breeze from a ventilation duct blowing on his skin. Waitaminute -- where are my clothes?! He tried to sit up, stopped by both the pain exploding in his head and the restraints that encircled his wrists. Oh shit! Memory flooded back then, fear like a dagger of ice stabbing through his heart; he looked around frantically for a way to free himself before his jailor returned from wherever he was.

"You cannot escape," a female voice came from the shadows.

"Oh great...If it isn't Peacekeeper Barbie..." He looked around, trying to locate her in the dim lighting; jumped when he saw her yellow eyes glowing from the shadows. "Niem, is it?" he asked, knowing she wouldn't answer him anyway, "Tell me, is this kind of thing authorized by whoever's in charge? 'Cause there are some folks back home from Amnesty International who'd love to have words with ol' Scorpy..."

Instead of answering, Niem strode from the room. Before the door slid shut, he heard her telling Scorpius he was awake. I am so screwed! he thought, returning his attention to the restraints in a futile attempt to unlock them. A moment later, the door slid open again, and Scorpius entered, turning the lights on and locking the door behind him. Crichton squeezed his eyes shut as the sudden light sent a twinge of pain through his head; gradually opened his eyes again as the pain faded and his eyes became accustomed to the light.

"I'm glad I didn't hit you too hard -- I would have been disappointed if I had...permanently damaged you," Scorpius said, looking down at him.

"Lucky me," Crichton muttered, glowering up at his captor, who in turn smiled and stroked a gloved hand casually up Crichton's side, watching muscles tense as he traveled over sensitive areas. Then he trailed his fingers over one of Crichton's collarbones and up his throat, the human's eyes widening as the gloved hand closed on his throat.

"I could snap your neck right now if I wanted to, Crichton; do not try my patience," Scorpius warned, the flare of panic he could sense from the human sending a thrill through him. A moment later, he let go and gently stroked Crichton's cheek. "That's much better...Now, I believe I was discussing the difference in -- size -- between you and Sebaceans," he said, turning his attention to Crichton's crotch. He grasped Crichton's cock in one gloved hand and his balls in the other, then asked, "Are you a good indication of the standard for your species? It is...most impressive."

"Oh -- jeez, go easy there!" Crichton gasped as Scorpius pulled on him, "You know, they are attached!" He swallowed hard, uncomfortably aware that it was becoming harder and harder to ignore where this was going. Deciding it would be a good idea to answer the question, he said, "I'm not really sure if I'm a good indication of the standard -- my people...we -- we're kind of weird about the whole thing, you know? I mean we look, but we don't look, and -- ouch!" He broke off, gasping, as Scorpius squeezed his balls cruelly and pulled on them. "Okay, okay -- my buddy DK always said he envied me, so no, I'm a bit bigger than average, I think. Why? I kinda figured from the way they acted that all Sebaceans were hung like horses... And this isn't translating well, is it..." he trailed off as Scorpius frowned. "Hung like horses -- well hung -- big," he elaborated, wondering why he was bothering. "Let me guess -- it's that heat problem again, isn't it. We kind of have a little problem with --ah-- shrinkage when we're somewhere really cold."

Instead of answering, Scorpius returned his attention to Crichton's cock and balls, releasing them and probing more gently now, feeling the separate organs within the lightly furred sac; the way the foreskin moved back to expose the glans. Crichton gasped as he stroked over the sensitive skin with a gloved finger, swallowed hard as his body started to respond to the attention. "Again, a response -- very undisciplined," Scorpius murmured, intensifying his attention. The human was terrified, embarrassed, ashamed -- and rapidly becoming aroused. It sent a thrill through him -- as it always did -- to exert such power over someone. Soon, he would have this human begging.

Scorpius closed his hand around Crichton's cock and began to pump, and Crichton winced as the glove moved across sensitive skin. "Um...the skin there's pretty sensitive, you know -- we usually use some kind of lubricant to keep from irritating it..."

"What makes you think any of this is for your benefit, Crichton?" Scorpius purred, rubbing his gloved thumb over the head of Crichton's cock, closing his eyes and sighing as the human gasped.

Crichton bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remain silent as his body barraged him with conflicting impulses. Should have done something about all of this tension before it caused problems, he thought, pulling against the restraints in a vain attempt to free himself. Oh god -- this is going to happen and I can't do a fucking thing to stop him... he suddenly realized, a shiver running through him that had as much to do with terror as it did arousal.

"So," Scorpius said, continuing to pump Crichton's cock with one hand and stroking teasingly between his legs with the other, "which orifice do your people use when two males couple? The tight one back here?" As he slid a finger between Crichton's buttcheeks and touched the puckered opening, he could feel Crichton clench every muscle of his body; feel the human's terror thundering through him. "I can imagine how it would feel for you to sheath yourself inside a Sebacean..." he purred, "so tight and hot..."

"No!" Crichton gasped, trying to pull away from the finger teasing at his anus. "Stop -- leave me alone!" Fear chased away all attempts at bravado, this next level of Scorpius' torture suddenly all too inevitable...

And then suddenly Scorpius pulled his hand back and smiled down at him. "Do not worry, Crichton, I have no desire to permanently damage you -- you'll have your lubrication..." He peeled off his gloves -- instantly Crichton wished he hadn't; stared in horror at the long bony fingers with long, thick, sharp nails... Then Scorpius dipped his fingers into a container of blue gel and grasped his cock again with one hand, slid the other back between his legs. The skin of his cock began to tingle almost immediately as Scorpius began to pump, and then he felt a finger probing at his anus...

"NO!" he yelled, pulling desperately at the restraints, oblivious to the pain of the cuffs cutting into his wrists as Scorpius worked the tip of his finger in. Again, the skin began tingling almost instantly -- a disturbing sensation that was neither painful nor numbing, but instead seemed to intensify every stroke. "Oh god -- what is-- no!" he gasped as Scorpius kept pressing, forcing his finger deeper inside. Crichton squeezed his eyes shut again, praying it would be over quickly; praying that Scorpius didn't damage him with his nails, that his body would stop reacting to the finger deep inside, pressing now in just the right place to send pleasure through him whether he wanted it or not...

He groaned as Scorpius pressed again, oblivious to how his legs had spread; to the fact that he was now thrusting up into the hand that pumped him...With his eyes shut he could pretend he was somewhere safe, with someone he wanted to be with; pretend that this nightmare wasn't really happening... "Oh god..." he moaned, realizing that at least one more finger had joined the first one, the sensation of being stretched and filled far more arousing than he had expected it to be.

"God -- no -- I can't--" he panted, helpless in the onslaught of pleasure; trapped between the plundering fingers and the pumping hand, and totally out of control. He moaned incoherently, writhing and arching into the strokes now, trying to work the fingers inside him deeper as his body ached for release.

Scorpius licked his lips hungrily, bared his sharp teeth in a cruel grin. The human was desperately aroused now, open and eagerly pressing back to drive the fingers deeper, his hunger powerful enough to make Scorpius' head spin with his own lust. The restraint needed to keep from seriously damaging his captive was difficult to maintain with his own body clamoring for release, and the fear Crichton had shown when he had removed his gloves was something he wanted to taste again. Somehow, the human had managed to make himself forget where he was and what was happening -- this would not do. If nothing else, Scorpius decided, the human could be treated by the Sebacean doctors if something went wrong -- he had to feel Crichton's terror as the human realized who he was submitting to.

Crichton whimpered as the cruel hand released his cock, gasped, "No!" before he realized what he was saying. Next, the fingers slid from his ass, leaving him feeling empty and unsatisfied. Before he could do more than whimper, though, someone climbed onto the bunk beside him and roughly lifted one of his legs to get a better angle. His eyes shot open as he realized the texture he felt against his leg was lizard-like leather. The moment the horror and understanding flared, Scorpius shoved his fingers back inside him in one brutally savage stroke, not stopping until Crichton's body opened to accept the entire hand.

"OhgodnoooOOOO!" Crichton roared as his body betrayed him completely, blinding orgasm tearing through him as Scorpius jabbed cruelly at his prostate. In the throes of passion, he never registered Scorpius' teeth fastening on his shoulder and biting; never heard the alien's own growl of pleasure...


Reality -- and an ugly one at that -- gradually reasserted itself. Crichton looked around the room, realizing he still lay in bed completely naked, but that his hands had been released and the wounds on his wrists treated. An ache deep within his body reminded him what had happened, although there was no sign of the sharp pain he had expected after Scorpius' last act...

Scorpius stepped into his view and explained, "I had the medics take a look at you -- I want you to live a nice, long time, Crichton."

"Thanksev'r so much," Crichton answered, alarmed by the effort it took to speak. "C'n I go back to my cell now?" He tried to sit up, found himself unable to do much more than lift his head. "You drugged me!" he accused indignantly, "D'you do this to all your pris'ners? D'you rape them, too?"

"The drug is a simple sedative to keep you relaxed while you heal," Scorpius explained, looking down at him and lazily trailing a finger along a jagged red line on Crichton's shoulder. Crichton strained to see what he was doing, was relieved to see that he had put his gloves back on. Then he saw the bite mark Scorpius was toying with...

"It would make me so happy if you burst into flame in the sunlight," Crichton said, carefully pronouncing each word and sounding very much like someone trying to sound sober when they were anything but. He swallowed hard as Scorpius stared down at him, then asked, "Does Crais know what you do to your prisoners?"

"The way I treat my prisoners is no business of Captain Crais'," Scorpius purred. "At least not until he becomes one of them, himself..."

"You gonna rape him, too?" Crichton asked, fighting back the beginnings of nausea as thoughts of his rape intruded on him. Never even got further than a couple of hand-jobs with any guys, he thought, Now I get fisted by some freak-show reject! God...I'll kill myself if I can't get out of here...

"Why do you care so much about Captain Crais?" Scorpius asked suddenly, watching his reaction carefully.

"Wha?" Crichton asked, surprised by the question for a moment -- until something in Scorpius' tone filtered through the fog in his mind. "No, waitaminit -- it's not like that! Frell -- he's been tryin' to kill me!"

"Of course," Scorpius said, his tone indicating that he didn't believe Crichton for a minute. "I think it's time for me to have a talk with Captain Crais...You will stay here and rest for the time being."

And then he was gone, leaving Crichton alone in the dark with his thoughts...


"What do you want, Scorpius," Crais asked, turning from the file he was studying in order to face the scientist. "Have you finally finished with my prisoner?"

"No, Captain, I am far from finished with him -- he is hiding something and I will find out what it is..." Scorpius answered, studying Crais carefully. "Tell me, why are you so obsessed with Crichton?"

Crais frowned at him, something in his tone vaguely unsettling. "He -- was responsible for my brother's death, and he aided in the theft of the Leviathan; you already know that, Scorpius. What are you after?"

"What are you planning to do with him when you have him, Crais?" Scorpius asked, studying the changes in his energy signature. "Have you made any plans? There are some memories of his that involve the two of you fighting at the instigation of a creature named Maldis. Crichton's will to live is amazingly strong for a lesser species..." He walked closer, feeling the flare of heat from the Sebacean. "Tell me, Captain, does the thought of closing your hands around his throat and squeezing the life out of him excite you?"

Crais' eyes narrowed as Scorpius' tone changed, becoming quieter, conspiratorial. Scorpius leaned in closer still and said, "You don't want to kill him, Captain; you want to own him..."

"Get out of here, Scorpius," Crais threatened, fury flaring at the suggestion that he could possibly be interested in a lesser species in that way. And yet, Human seemed to be nearly Sebacean -- on the surface, at least, there were no apparent differences...

"He needs to rest for a while, but I can have him brought to you for a short visit once he has recovered..." Scorpius offered, savouring the conflict within Crais.

"Get out!" Crais repeated, using his best command tone. Scorpius smiled and sketched a mocking bow, then left the room. Once he was certain he was alone Crais walked to his chair and sat, trying to make sense of the whirling maelstrom of thoughts and emotions Scorpius had stirred up.

Just the mere mention of Maldis had reawakened what Crais considered primitive urges -- he did want to feel his hands closing around Crichton's throat, squeezing the life from him. But he couldn't kill Crichton -- the alien's fate seemed to be intertwined with his now, and killing him would leave a void that would be hard to fill. At one point, Tauvo had filled that place, until Crichton killed him. Now...

He shook his head, memories of Maldis' challenge rising unbidden. Crichton had tried to bargain for his life -- had tried to explain and evade, and away from Maldis' influence, what he had said made sense. It had been an accident and he was just lashing out to make himself feel better... But he could never admit something like that to Crichton -- pride just wouldn't allow it.

But the image of Crichton in his mind's eye wasn't fighting or running, the blue gaze meeting his and pleading for his understanding; the tall, fit body backing into the wall as Crais advanced on him... Lips parting slightly as he gasped when Crais pinned him against that wall with his own body; soft whimper when Crais kissed him roughly...

Crais gasped and opened his eyes, self-consciously looking around his office to make certain he was still alone. As much as he loathed to admit it, Scorpius was evidently right: he did want to own Crichton... He stood and began pacing, trying to clear his mind of thoughts of Crichton and finding himself unable to. This will never do! he thought, trying to will his body to obey him and finding his own subconscious aiding in its rebellion. What have you done to me, Crichton?! he thought, furious at his lack of control.

He found himself at the door, reaching up to key in a lock code. He hesitated then, his eyes narrowing as he looked around the room. This was Scorpius' base, and for all he knew, the half-breed could monitor every inch of it. The only way he would find true privacy was to take Crichton to his ship, and that would most likely be impossible -- he needed to find and disable the monitoring devices before Scorpius brought Crichton to him...


"Crichton? Crichton, wake up..." The voice gradually filtered through the fog in his mind and he latched onto it, clawing his way to the surface; struggling to open his eyes and blink up at the face watching him.

"Stark?" he croaked, squinting in an attempt to focus. "How...how long?"

"They brought you back here about ten arns ago -- you've been unconscious since then. Their drugs seem to work a little too well on you; I've been making sure you keep breathing..." Stark answered, gently rubbing Crichton's forehead.

"Ten...arns? That can't be good," Crichton murmured, struggling to sit up and finally succeeding with Stark's help. "Anyone been in to check on me?"

"The doctors were here about two arns ago, but they were the only ones," Stark answered uncomfortably, well aware of what they had been checking on. "How do you feel?"

"I've been better..." Crichton answered, seeing the concern in his cellmate's eye. "Not too keen on Scorpy's idea of post-torture recreation..."

"Are you in pain?" Stark asked quietly, wishing he could do something more to help -- to keep Crichton safe from the sadistic scientist. He wanted to encircle the human in a protective embrace, wanted to chase away the memories he could see were trying to intrude -- but he was concerned, too, that he might do something to frighten his cellmate. "If there's anything I can do..."

"I -- uh..." Crichton paused, swallowing hard and shifting his weight uneasily, "No -- not in pain, surprisingly. Their doctors must be pretty good..." Feeling sluggish and weak, he allowed himself to lean against Stark, although he couldn't make himself relax as much as he really wanted to. "Stark, I can't take this -- I'd rather be in the Chair over and over than go through that again..."

"Shh," Stark soothed, carefully reaching up to massage Crichton's neck. Gradually Crichton relaxed against him, and after a while Stark could feel him drift back to sleep. Once he was certain Crichton was asleep, Stark carefully laid him down again, this time lying down beside him and wrapping him gently in his arms. He could sense how badly Crichton had been shaken, and wanted desperately to make him feel safe. He knew he couldn't really protect him, but he had to give Crichton some of his confidence back or he would never survive what Stark was sure would be coming when he was healthy again...


The next time he awoke, Crichton realized there was a warm, comforting presence at his back, protective arm wrapped around him. After a moment of confusion, he realized it was Stark and that the alien was still asleep. As memories of recent events resurfaced, he was filled with the urge to jump up, put as much room between himself and his cellmate as possible, adrenaline thundering through his body and sending his pulse racing.

No, he thought, keeping himself from responding to the impulse by sheer force of will. He's just trying to keep you safe, you idiot! he chided himself, closing his eyes and trying to relax again. With his eyes closed, however, he could see Scorpius' leering face, could feel the unwanted touch. "No!" he gasped, opening his eyes again and shuddering violently.

The sudden movement woke Stark, whose first thought was that he had done something to frighten the human. He opened his embrace and backed away slightly, giving Crichton the chance to escape if that was what he wanted. Instead, Crichton sagged back against him and choked back a sob. Carefully, Stark hugged him close and whispered, "It's all right -- he's not here. You're safe..."

"I -- I was trying to relax and I saw him..." Crichton murmured, "I--" He paused, shuddering and scrubbing a hand over his face to wipe tears away, "I could feel him...can't get it out of my mind..."

Stark smoothed his hair and whispered, "Don't let him control you like this, Crichton -- we may not be able to fight him in person, but he's not here now. I know you're a fighter -- don't let him win."

"Easy to say," Crichton said quietly, rolling onto his back and staring up at the dingy ceiling. "Not quite so easy to do...I don't know how to stop thinking about it -- it's not the kind of thing that just goes away, you know?" He turned his head to the side to look at Stark, thinking, not for the first time, that it was a little on the strange side to be lying in his arms. "But you already know that, don't you...You've been here for two cycles -- I can imagine what they've done to you in that time..."

Stark swallowed hard and nodded, then whispered, "Sometimes it's been rough... Believe me, I understand." He reached up to stroke Crichton's face -- and jumped when the door opened.

"Ah, isn't this cozy," Scorpius said, looking down at the two of them and smiling darkly.

"Oh frell..." Crichton growled, scrambling to his feet and backing away. Stark sat up more slowly, putting on his crazy act until he realized he may as well not even be in the room -- Scorpius' attention was focused entirely on Crichton.

"Do not worry, Crichton -- this time I'm not the one you're going to be talking to." He turned back to the door and said, "Guards, bring the human."

Seeing Scorpius turn his back on them while still standing in the cell, fury flared in Crichton. He roared and launched himself at the scientist, tackling him and bringing him down before the half-breed had time to react. "I'm gonna kill you, you bastard!" he growled, raising his fists to slam them down into Scorpius' head. Before he could, however, the guards closed on him and grabbed his arms, hauled him off the alien and out of the cell.

Scorpius stood and straightened his uniform, then glowered down at Stark. "You can tell him, when he comes back, that he will pay for that..." Then he stalked out and shut the door, making certain it was locked before he joined the guards and Crichton. Stopping right in front of Crichton, Scorpius grabbed his chin and forced him to meet his gaze. "I look forward to punishing you for that, Crichton...For now, however, you are going to visit Captain Crais. I will deal with you at my leisure, later..."

"I can hardly wait..." Crichton spat, trying to turn away.

"I'm sure," Scorpius purred, stroking his cheek and then releasing him. He smiled and sighed softly as Crichton shuddered at his touch. "Take him to Crais' office and wait outside the door until I call for him," he ordered, appreciating the view as the guards led Crichton away.


Crichton stumbled as the guards shoved him into the room, catching himself as the door shut behind him. When he looked up, he saw Crais watching him intently. The Peacekeeper captain lounged back in his chair, dressed in his uniform boots and trousers, and a shirt of the style he usually wore beneath the leather tunic. Huh -- I don't remember them saying it was casual day... Crichton thought, glancing around the room to make sure there was no one else present.

"Scorpius tells me you wish to see me," Crais said after a moment. He frowned, looking at the condition Crichton was in -- it was obvious that over the span of the past few days the human had been tortured repeatedly. His blue eyes were haunted, the dark circles beneath them adding to the general air of despair -- and there was a bruise on one side of his head.

Crais stood and walked around his desk, frowning even more as he saw the flash of terror in Crichton's eyes. What has that creature done? he thought, slowly walking towards Crichton.

"Scorpius told me you wanted to see me. He's playing some kind of sick game," Crichton said, backing away as Crais advanced. When he backed into the door, a soft yelp escaped him. Gauging the distance between him and Crais, he looked for an escape route and unhappily realized it was the only door -- other than the one that led to Crais' private quarters. He looked around the room again, this time focusing his attention on light and other electronic fixtures. "I'm betting he's got every room in this frelling base set up for recording. He'll be watching everything that goes on here and getting his sick thrills from it."

Crais smiled.

For a terrifying instant, Crichton's mind froze on the thought that Crais was in on it with the scientist. Then he said, "No, he won't. I disabled the monitoring devices myself -- I value my privacy, too."

Relief flooded Crichton, so intense for a moment that he thought he might faint. Then he realized that Crais was standing right in front of him, staring at him intently. "What? Something growing on my nose?"

Crais reached out, gently probing at the bruise, pulling his hand back when Crichton winced and jerked away. "Scorpius did this?"

"Yeah. I know you'd rather kill me yourself, but he really seems intent to do it. Slowly..."

Crais' eyes narrowed, and Crichton barely restrained the urge to flinch away, expecting to be struck. Instead, his enemy murmured, "He will not kill you, Crichton. If anyone is going to kill you, I will be the one to do it."

"You can't imagine how warm and fuzzy that makes me feel..."

"Are you injured beyond this bruise?" Crais asked sharply, watching Crichton's expression carefully. The human's mouth opened, then closed again, and a myriad of emotions flitted across his face; the most prevalent of them anger, fear, and shame...

Then Crichton swallowed hard and said, "That depends on how good your Peacekeeper doctors are -- they patched me up and drugged me to sleep and why the hell am I answering this, anyway? What the frell do you want from me?!"

Crais smiled, then; standing so close to Crichton, the human's scent tickled his nose. He took a deep breath, and then took the extra half step forward.

Crichton gasped as Crais pinned him against the door, then tried to shove him away and free himself. With one easy move, the Peacekeeper cupped the back of his head and pulled him into a rough kiss, plunging his tongue into Crichton's mouth when he gasped again. He pressed his body hard against Crichton's, reveling in the feel of his captive struggling, the soft moan as he plundered his mouth; finally he broke the kiss and allowed Crichton to breathe.

"What is it with you aliens?!" Crichton panted, struggling to push Crais back and feeling his muscles turning to water. "Is it my cologne?" He looked at the lust burning in Crais' eyes, and said, "And here I was worried about Scorpy raping you...You're insane!"

"Crichton, shut up," Crais growled, "Scorpius is not here. It is just you and I, with no one to stop us or interfere." He backed up enough to look Crichton up and down, then grabbed one wrist and dragged Crichton with him into his quarters.

Weakened by his recent ordeal, Crichton couldn't do more than try to hold them back -- Crais was too strong and too determined to get him into the bedchamber. When the door slammed shut behind him, Crichton whispered, "No..." and tried to slip Crais' grasp. Instead, the alien practically threw him onto his bed, then stood before him, looking him over appreciatively. I don't get it...Why are they all after me? Crichton thought, trying to scramble away on the bed before Crais could pin him.

Strong hands fastened on his ankles and pulled, suddenly yanking him back. He ended up sprawled on his back trying to catch his breath, while Crais pulled off his boots one at a time and then climbed onto the bed with him. "You are mine, Crichton. To kill or to keep alive for whatever purpose I wish," he purred, reaching up to caress Crichton's hips, legs; to slide his hands heavily over Crichton's inner thighs and watch as the blue eyes widened. Sure fingers unfastened the belt and tugged the leather trousers of Crichton's appropriated uniform down, revealing his button-fly boxer briefs and the very beginnings of an erection.

Crais backed off the bed again, peeling Crichton's trousers the rest of the way off; left them lying on the floor while he climbed back onto the bed and up to straddle Crichton's hips. He looked down, meeting the shocked blue gaze, and smiled; then began to strip off Crichton's uniform jacket.

Crichton lay on the bed, confused by Crais' actions -- unlike Scorpius' cruelty, everything Crais did seemed designed to please them both. Was this another rape, or some kind of seduction? Again, the heavy-handed caress, this time up his sides and torso, hands sliding up under his ruined t-shirt and -- not gently, but certainly not painfully -- toying with his nipples... He gasped, shifting his weight under Crais as his cock grew hard enough to be uncomfortable trapped where it was. He could see Crais' eyes widen in surprise as he felt his erection, and had to smile a little to himself. Like that, eh, Crais? And then Crais intensified his caresses, warm palms rubbing over his pecs and then back down his sides, repeating that path until Crichton was panting and arching up into his strokes.

"You want this, don't you, Crichton," Crais purred, bending down to lick and nibble on one of Crichton's nipples. Crichton gasped as he felt the teeth close on his nipple, expecting pain and instead feeling a shock of pleasure arrowing its way to his groin.

He groaned and thrust up against Crais, whispering, "This is insane -- you've been trying to kill me since I got here and now you want to -- to frell me?"

"And you want me to," Crais answered, sitting up straight again. He pulled the ruined t-shirt off Crichton, pleased when the human actually assisted him by propping himself up for a moment. Then he spotted the bite mark on Crichton's shoulder and frowned. Damn you, Scorpius... Impatiently, he stripped his own shirt off and tossed it aside, then leaned down again and whispered in Crichton's ear, "But don't expect me to stop if you don't..." Then he caught Crichton's earlobe between his teeth and tugged gently, savouring the groan Crichton tried to restrain.

"God...what the hell am I doing..." Crichton murmured, realizing he had brought his hands up and was now stroking Crais' powerful shoulders and back. He pulled his hands away, tried to push Crais off him. "Stop this, Crais!"

"It amazes me that you can lie to yourself so easily, Crichton. I can feel your body responding to me and yet you try to pretend you want me to stop? I am not a fool!" Crais growled, sitting up and backing onto Crichton's thighs. He took a deep breath, then unbuttoned Crichton's underwear, unable to restrain a gasp as his cock sprang free of its cotton prison. Staring almost reverently at it, he reached out to grasp the shaft and squeeze it gently, then released it again to explore its length, tracing the vein and then carefully sliding the foreskin back. "Most impressive," he breathed, reaching into the underwear with his other hand to cup Crichton's balls.

"Oh! God -- don't -- oh -- frell..." Crichton gasped, thrusting up into his grasp despite his request to Crais to stop.

Crais smiled and said, "If you insist," then released his cock and climbed off the bed. Shocked, Crichton stared at him accusingly, especially when Crais bent to remove his own boots. Then Crais looked back up at him and asked, "What do you want, Crichton? You tell me to stop, then you get upset when I do..."

"Never suspected you for a cock-tease, Crais..." Crichton murmured, swallowing hard when he saw the Sebacean unfasten his trousers. This is nuts -- why the hell am I lying here waiting for this? This guy is my enemy! And yet, he continued to watch as Crais stepped out of his trousers and pulled off his underwear. This time it was Crichton's turn to stare in surprise as Crais' erection sprang free. "Waitaminute -- from the way Scorpy was talking, I thought you guys were all --uh-- that's a lot bigger than I was expecting..."

"I am rather well endowed for a Sebacean," Crais said smugly, walking around to the side of the bed where he took something from a small cabinet and placed it next to the pillows. "Compared to you, though..." he trailed off, staring again at Crichton's erection.

Crichton frowned, wondering what he was up to, then choked back a laugh as he saw Crais lick his lips. Drooling, Captain? A cock-tease and a size queen? Then his attention was dragged back to the situation at hand as Crais grabbed the waistband of his underwear and tugged them off in one swift motion. The next thing he knew, Crais was back on the bed, this time pulling him up towards the pillows. He struggled against the Sebacean, again reminded that they were stronger than humans as Crais wrapped powerful arms around him and kissed him roughly, then shoved a knee between his legs. He managed to break the kiss, trying to catch his breath as Crais' hands slid down his back to massage his buttocks. "Whoa!" he yelled, trying to struggle free and only succeeding in exciting both of them further. "No -- you can't do that!"

Crais looked him in the eyes and saw genuine fear in the blue gaze. For a moment he actually considered conceding to his wishes, but his cock ached too much to stop now. "Oh yes, I can, Crichton. I already told you I wouldn't stop even if you wanted me to."

"Please -- no, you don't need to do that -- we could -- ohgod..." Crichton gasped as he felt Crais fingering between his buttocks. "Stop!"

Crais retrieved the tube of lubricant from beside the pillows, squeezed some of it onto his fingers. Crichton's face went pale as he saw the blue gel, he swallowed hard and tried to say something but no sound came out. Then he felt Crais' finger slide back between his buttocks and tease at his anus. He shuddered violently and whimpered, memories of Scorpius flooding back. "Please, stop..."

"Relax, Crichton, I'm not going to hurt you," Crais insisted, pulling his finger out and squeezing more lubricant onto it before sliding it back between his legs. "Relax..." He frowned slightly, noting that Crichton's erection had wilted and that he was still clenching his muscles far too tightly. "If you don't relax, it will hurt."

"Please, don't do this..." Crichton whispered, staring at him as if he were trying to burn his image onto his retinas. "Crais -- you don't--" He stopped abruptly as the finger worked slightly deeper, the gel beginning to work on his nerves and the pleasure beginning to relax him just the slightest bit. "No..."

Crais leaned in to kiss him again, noting that this time the human kept his eyes open, the fear still visible in the clear blue gaze. "I don't understand you, Crichton," he said as they broke the kiss, "Your body reacts to me so eagerly; how can you claim you do not want this?"

"I've been told I lack the physical discipline of a Sebacean," Crichton answered, his voice harsh.

Uncomfortably certain that he already knew the answer, Crais looked him in the eye and asked, "Who said this?"

"Who do you think?" Crichton answered sullenly, "Like you really give a dren."

"Scorpius," Crais growled, the pieces falling into place suddenly. No wonder he had mentioned a concern that Scorpius might rape him... "Well, you needn't worry -- I am full Sebacean; I will not have to resort to the methods he uses."

"Isn't that thoughtful of you -- but you're still gonna rape me..." Crichton said, focusing on Crais' face again to keep the memories of Scorpius' leer from resurfacing. He gasped as Crais shifted his position, the finger sliding a little deeper and sending a shiver through him. His body was starting to respond to the stimulus again, despite his fear. "What does being full Sebacean have to do with it, anyway?"

"I do not have to resort to artificial means to penetrate you -- a Scarran half-breed like Scorpius is unable to maintain an erection," Crais answered, working his finger into Crichton as gently as possible, pleased to see that he was beginning to react.

Crichton gave a little snort and said, "No wonder he's in such a bad mood all the time." He was surprised to see Crais chuckle at that.

"You may very well be right," Crais murmured, leaning in to nuzzle his neck, nibble his way up to Crichton's ear and gently bite the lobe again. He smiled to himself as he felt Crichton relax further; worked his finger deeper, this time hearing a catch in the human's breath but no whimpers or protests. He wanted desperately to take his captive, but knew that if he were to truly conquer him, force was not the way to do it...

Returning his attention to Crichton's neck, he nibbled his way back down, working his way down his chest to one of the rosy nipples.

Crichton groaned as Crais tugged gently on the erect nub of flesh, his cock growing hard again. Some strands of hair had come loose from Crais' severe ponytail and trailed across his chest, tickling and sending pleasant shivers through him. Crais sighed as his clenched buttocks relaxed further and allowed him to slide his finger deep. "Ooohgod!" Crichton moaned, surging up into Crais, encouraging both the gentle torture of his nipples and the plundering of his ass.

"Yes, Crichton, enjoy the sensations..." Crais purred, abandoning his nipples to kiss him again, gently grasp his lower lip between his teeth; plunge his tongue deep into Crichton's mouth. He could feel Crichton yielding to him; feel the fear dissolve into hunger, made even more evident when there was no resistance to his sliding a second finger into his captive. "Yes..."

Crichton thrust up against his thigh, his cock now achingly hard and desperate for release; his breath coming in quick pants. "Please..." he moaned, not even realizing he was doing so as he writhed between Crais' body and the invading fingers. "I need--"

"Yes, Crichton, I know," Crais hissed, sliding his fingers free and grabbing the lubricant again as Crichton whimpered a protest. Hands trembling with excitement, he squeezed some onto his palm and slathered it on his cock, hissing as the cool gel began to tingle immediately. Then he pressed Crichton back into the pillows and shifted so that he knelt between his legs; lifted Crichton's legs to expose his target and guided his cock to the tight hole.

As he pressed against the puckered opening, he watched Crichton's face; saw his eyes open wide in surprise and a little fear, until his cock slid past the tight ring of muscles and into the hot channel. Then Crichton's blue gaze changed, growing hazy as pleasure burned through him. Crais pressed all the way in, hissing as he felt the tight channel gripping him; smiling as his cock nudged against Crichton's prostate and the blue eyes dilated in pleasure. "Oh yes, right there, eh, Crichton?" he murmured, twitching his hips a tiny bit to make his cock press against it again. He felt Crichton's anus twitch as he did so, squeezing his cock hard. Then he helped Crichton move his legs to a more comfortable position that would allow him to thrust deep without straining Crichton's hips. "That's good..." he said softly, smiling as Crichton nodded.

"Yeah..." Crichton gasped as Crais nudged his prostate again. Pleasure arced through him like an electric shock, no sign of the pain he had expected after what Scorpius had done. He arched up into Crais, wrapping one leg around his waist and his arms around the powerful shoulders. "Oh god -- I never expected..."

He trailed off into a groan as Crais began to move, withdrawing part way and then thrusting deep again. Crais leaned in close and asked, "Are you saying you've never done this before?"

"You're -- the first..." Crichton admitted, blushing, gasping then as Crais' cock twitched inside him. "Oh god!"

Crais smiled slyly and purred, "Then I will make certain to give you a very memorable experience..." He withdrew nearly all the way, then slid home in one smooth, forceful thrust, relishing Crichton's moan and the way the human surged up to meet him. He could see the hunger and desperation in the handsome features; feel the surrender in the exquisitely formed body. No matter what he might claim later, John Crichton was his.

Crichton moaned and arched back into the pillows, completely helpless in the onslaught of pleasure. Every move Crais made felt so amazingly good it was all he could do to remember how to breathe; all higher brain functions fleeing as the pleasure grew, burning everything else in the world away. He writhed up into Crais' thrusts, unaware that he was making inarticulate gasps and moans every time Crais drove deep.

Crais nuzzled against his neck then down to once again nip first one nipple, then the other. Crichton cried out sharply as he bit harder than he had before, more in surprise than pain as the sensation zinged straight to his balls. Crais smiled and looked up at him, instructed, "Relax your legs -- flop your knees out to the sides and allow me to sit up." He could see the puzzlement in the blue depths and added, "Don't worry, you'll like the results..."

Crichton complied, stroking and teasing Crais' sides before releasing him, and carefully paid attention as Crais began to move. First, Crais leaned in to kiss him. He eagerly reciprocated, their tongues battling for a moment before Crais again got the upper hand, plunging his tongue deep into Crichton's mouth. By the time they broke the kiss, Crichton was light-headed from lack of oxygen.

Then Crais sat up, his hard cock still spearing Crichton as he shifted from kneeling to sitting; the movements making Crichton gasp and shiver with helpless arousal. Crais made a purring noise, a rumble deep in his throat, and grasped Crichton's hips with strong hands. He pulled Crichton up into his lap and thrust deep, relishing the sharp cry of surprise as Crichton felt the intensified pressure against his prostate. "Yes, that's good, isn't it..."

"Ohgod..." Crichton whispered, unable to do more than that as Crais reached down and grasped his aching cock. "Ooooohhhh..." Crais resumed fucking him; the hard, relentless thrusts battering his insides and driving his pleasure to a fever pitch. "Yeah -- oh god don't stop!" he gasped as Crais began pumping his cock in time with the savage strokes.

Crais growled every time he slammed deep, his own arousal more than he could contain. The sight of Crichton spitted on his cock, arching so that every stroke hit exactly the right spot, his blue eyes hazy with the intense pleasure -- it was all he needed to send him over the edge.

Crichton gasped as hot gushes of cum filled him, Crais' cock spasming deep inside him; the insistent hand on his own cock and Crais' deep groan of pleasure triggering his own explosion. He cried out, caught by surprise by the intensity; gasping and trembling as Crais continued to thrust into him and milk his cock until they were both completely spent.

As the tremors faded, Crais' softening cock slid free of Crichton's body and he backed away a little bit, helped the human straighten his legs. Still trying to catch his breath, Crichton murmured, "Damn, Crais -- I guess that whole 'motion of the ocean' thing is true..."

Crais looked down at him smugly, knowing that no matter what happened now, he had been the first to take Crichton, and that the human had enjoyed every second of it. "Wait here, Crichton," he said softly, standing and walking to the bathroom.

By the time he returned to the bedroom with a warm washcloth, Crichton was asleep and had curled up in the bedspread. Crais reached out to stroke his face, then realized what he was doing and frowned, moved to pull the bedspread away so that he could get to Crichton's buttocks. The blue eyes snapped open, and for an instant reflected naked terror, then Crichton realized where he was. "Crais?"

"There was -- a small amount of blood," Crais answered softly, "Perhaps you were not as healed as you said?" He rolled Crichton partially onto his stomach and gently washed between his asscheeks. "I will get the doctor who treated you before."

"What the hell do you care, anyway?" Crichton asked, looking back at Crais and trying to ignore just how good the warm washcloth felt. The gentleness Crais was displaying was somehow more disturbing than the anger and fury Crichton was accustomed to seeing from him. The situation had changed, and he wasn't sure he understood exactly what was going on anymore...

Crais sat down beside him on the bed and allowed him to roll back onto his side. "It doesn't seem to be a severe injury -- not enough blood to indicate internal bleeding of any magnitude to be concerned with. I must have aggravated the injury Scorpius caused you." Crichton was surprised by the distaste he heard in Crais' tone.

"Uh...yeah, probably," Crichton answered hesitantly. "He --ah-- doesn't trim his nails." He caught the grimace Crais made at that comment, then thought Okay, this is too weird. Can we go back to you trying to kill me?

Then Crais stood and looked down at him. "I will call the doctor, then have you returned to your cell after he treats you."

His tone was closer to what Crichton expected, but still quieter and gentler than he was accustomed to. He nodded, and wrapped himself back in the bedspread again, trying not to notice the fact that it smelled like Crais, spicy and warm and somehow far too appealing... He drifted off to sleep again, and this time the nightmare of Scorpius didn't come.


Stark looked up and went into his crazy act as the guards returned Crichton to the cell. Once they were gone, he rushed to Crichton's side and helped him sit, noting that he did so gingerly. "Are you hurt?" he hissed, looking his cellmate over and not seeing any immediate signs of injury.

"Sore, mainly," Crichton answered wearily, leaning against Stark and rubbing at his eyes. "Need to sleep before Scorpy sends for me again..."

"Scorpy's mad at you -- said you're going to pay..." Stark whispered rapidly. Crichton looked up at him and realized Stark had been in the Chair while he had been visiting Crais.

"I'm sure he did..." Crichton answered softly. He realized that Stark seemed ready to flee at the slightest provocation; his cellmate seemed shakier than he had in a while. "He really took it out on you, didn't he..."

"I'll survive," Stark murmured, slumping down against the wall and curling in upon himself. "Just let me sleep. You sleep too. Both need it..."

"Yeah," Crichton whispered, wondering if he should try to hold Stark and comfort him the way his cellmate had done for him. The sight of Stark shivering decided it for him -- if nothing else, they would both rest better if they weren't as cold. He carefully edged up behind Stark and gently wrapped an arm around him, tensing slightly as he felt Stark's muscles go rigid for a moment. Then the alien let out a shuddering breath and grabbed onto his arm, pulling him closer.

"Freezing..." Stark muttered, half asleep already.

"I'll keep you as warm as I can," Crichton promised, hoping his leather jacket was enough to keep him warm. He wasn't about to move Stark off the tattered mat which barely provided protection from the cold floor.

Despite the discomfort and the thoughts chasing each other through his mind, Crichton was asleep in moments, managing to stay awake just long enough to hear Stark's breathing calm.


Crichton groaned and tried to turn over, caught his breath when muscles twinged. Ow...Damn. I didn't think I'd be so sore...Probably feel better if I got to sleep in a warm bed instead of on the damned stone floor... Then he grimaced to himself and added, Great. Now I'm thinking I'd be better off in Crais' bed? What the hell is with me?!

He lay still in the darkness, trying not to think about anything and finding himself unable to, the aches and twinges in his body reminding him of the incredible fucking Crais had given him. Stark muttered and shivered beside him, startling him back to alertness. A sudden feeling of foreboding settled over him and he slowly reached up to gently cover Stark's mouth with his hand.

He could feel Stark startle awake, hear the muffled question and feel the tensing of muscles; had just enough time to pray that Stark wouldn't kill him in some crazed attempt to escape his demons before the light flicked on. "Ah, togetherness..." Scorpius said, walking towards them. "I hate to break up this cozy scene, but it's time for a little discussion, Crichton."

"Don't do anything," Crichton breathed against Stark's ear, "he's hurt you enough!" And then he steeled himself and jumped to his feet to face Scorpius before he could get any closer. Protesting muscles twinged and it was all he could do to keep from gasping aloud, but he stood his ground. "Scorpy, Scorpy, Scorpy!" he crowed, trying to make himself look as steady as possible. "Don't you know it's time to sleep?"

Scorpius reached out suddenly, so fast that Crichton couldn't track the movement. Before he could even move, a hand was tightening around his throat and black lights were flashing around the edges of his vision. "I will tell you when it is time to sleep, Crichton," he snarled, leaning in close. Crichton made a tiny whimpering noise, his eyes beginning to glaze; then Scorpius sighed and whispered, "Right now, you have a private appointment with the Chair, and me!"

He released Crichton, then, gloating as the human fell to his knees and slumped before him, gasping for breath. He looked beyond Crichton to see Stark huddled back against the wall, staring with what appeared to be fear at Crichton's shuddering body. "Be careful, Stark, or you will be next!" he snarled, pleased when the alien yipped and hid his face in his arms. Then he grabbed Crichton's jacket collar and hauled him to his feet, pulled him out of the cell behind him.

It wasn't until he was almost to the door that he heard Stark muttering his familiar litany about 'his chair'. He sighed and breathed deep, savouring the fear he felt radiating from his two captives. Most satisfying... he thought, locking the door behind him and dragging Crichton to the chamber where the Chair was.

Crichton followed, unresisting, a part of him blindly terrified by the strength Scorpius had exhibited. He knew from earlier encounters that the half-breed was strong, but this went far beyond what he had experienced so far. And the change in voice that accompanied the outburst -- he swallowed hard, reasonably certain that for the first time, he had seen Scorpius truly angry. I'm really in for it now... he thought, stumbling along until Scorpius stopped him. The smile that Scorpius gave him chilled his blood.

"Sit down, Crichton," Scorpius ordered, the inhuman growl still evident in his voice. He smiled as Crichton complied, seating himself in the Chair and waiting for him to fasten the restraints. "That's a good boy," he purred as he strapped Crichton into the chair, the growl finally fading. With a gloved hand, he stroked Crichton's cheek, rubbed his thumb over his lips; meeting the blue gaze and reading the fear in it. "Yes, so good..."

Crichton grimaced, knowing he was making a mistake but unable to stop himself, and jerked his head away. "Leave me alone!" he snarled, desperation spurring him on. The next thing he knew, Scorpius had leaned in close; one knee on the chair between his thighs and his face millimeters away.

"Still hoping that I'll lose my temper and kill you?" Scorpius purred, Crichton's fear so intense he could almost taste it. His smile broadened and he whispered, "You're of no interest to me dead, Crichton..." Crichton squeezed his eyes shut and pressed back into the chair in a futile attempt to escape him. He darted his tongue out and tasted Crichton, relishing the shudder that went through the human.

A wave of nausea washed over Crichton and he squeezed his eyes shut, swallowing back bile. He tried to twist away from Scorpius, relieved beyond belief when he felt the alien back away again. "Leave me alone..." he whispered, opening his eyes again. Scorpius was standing a short distance away, now, studying him intensely. "What?" he asked, realizing that he most likely didn't want to know the answer.

"Yes, I thought so..." Scorpius murmured thoughtfully. He walked to the control console and started powering up the Chair, then fixed Crichton with a piercing gaze. "It seems we had a malfunction in some of the base's security devices -- I apologize that we were unable to protect you from Crais' wrath while he was questioning you...I will need to find out how he mistreated you so that I can appropriately punish him."

Oh god... Crichton thought, realizing what was coming. "No..." he protested, beginning to struggle in the bonds as Scorpius flicked switches and turned dials. "Really, he was well behaved -- no torture, no mistreatment..."

Scorpius smiled at him and said, "No reason to protect him, Crichton. His behaviour has been quite disappointing for a Peacekeeper captain -- he's totally out of control, and I need to know how far he has pushed the boundaries so that he can be properly--" He paused, turning the last dial and reaching for the lever that would activate the Chair, then finished, "punished."

Pain lanced through Crichton's mind as the Chair sliced into it, reaching deep and sifting through his memories. He screamed, unable to hold the pain inside, and shook his head, fighting as hard as he could to keep from thinking about Crais. Already, flashes of the Sebacean were appearing on the screen, intermingled with fleeting glimpses of dreams, fantasies, other sexual encounters he had had. "Noooooo!"

"Come on, Crichton," Scorpius purred, walking back over towards him and jumping up on the edge of the platform, watching him closely. "Show me how Crais abused you so that I can punish him appropriately!"

Crichton gasped, trying to catch his breath before another scream ripped itself from his lungs, and tried desperately to not think about what Scorpius was directing him towards. The Chair was tearing into his mind, claws of pain like hot knives tearing into his skull, his spine, flaring out through his entire body. He never felt Scorpius leave the platform, but then the power turned up and the pain flared brighter and hotter, and that hated voice whispered in his ear, "Show me what Crais did to you..."

"Crais!" he sputtered, tears mingling with the sweat running down his face. Deep in his soul he knew that although Scorpius was lying about his reasons for asking about the events, someone else deserved his protection more -- he could only hide one set of memories, and there was no doubt in his mind which one that would be.

Crichton screamed again, a long, drawn-out wail of agony; and then images flooded the screen: him backing into the door as Crais advanced on him; the kiss that left his knees weak; Crais' hands everywhere on him; Crais' body pinning him...

"Well, Crichton, that is most interesting..." Scorpius murmured, "I thought you and Captain Crais were enemies, and yet here you are welcoming this kind of attention from him..."

"Nooo!" Crichton screamed again as Scorpius turned up the power on the Chair. More memories flashed across the screen and Crichton found himself transfixed as he watched them: Crais fucking him hard; the two of them writhing in pleasure as orgasm took them... "Oh -- god -- get out of my head, Scorpy! This is -- yaaaargh!" He screamed again as the power increased again, sputtering and gasping as he tried desperately to fight it.

"You enjoyed it, didn't you, Crichton," Scorpius purred, studying the images closely. "You opened your legs for him and welcomed him...Your worst enemy, and you submitted to him like a whore!"

The images changed again as Scorpius' words filtered through the pain, once again showing him helpless at the moment of penetration. Crichton gasped and swallowed another cry of pain, gathering his strength to answer, "Not my worst enemy anymore, Scorpy..."

Scorpius left the platform again, and Crichton whimpered as he turned the power up again. "Show me everything you know about Crais, Crichton...Everything!"

The scream that followed echoed through the darkened corridors...


Crais sat at his desk, reviewing briefings sent from his ship and waiting impatiently for the visitor he had asked for. The fact that Scorpius had refused his request to speak to Crichton in the cell had left him feeling uneasy. By this point the scientist must have realized that the monitoring devices in his quarters had been disabled, yet he was unwilling to allow a meeting where he knew he could observe...Something was very wrong.

The buzzer sounded and he looked up, ordered, "Come." When the door opened revealing two guards supporting Crichton, his brow furrowed in anger. "Bring him in," he ordered quietly, studying Crichton's pale face. When the guards walked Crichton into the room he could see how unsteady the human was. Recognizing them as guards loyal to Scorpius, Crais watched them silently then dismissed them once they reached the middle of the room. He walked past Crichton to close and lock the door behind them; ignoring, for the moment, the fact that Crichton stumbled and fell to his knees the instant they were no longer supporting him.

When he turned back to Crichton, the human had slumped over on his side and lay there, twitching. He hurried to him, kneeled by his side and pulled him partially into his lap. "Crichton!" he hissed, trying to rouse him. When the blue eyes opened, they darted around wildly; panic written across his face until his gaze finally focused on Crais.

"C-- Crais..." he stammered weakly, blinking back tears as he recognized genuine concern in the Peacekeeper captain's expression. "Sorry -- I'm not-- not at my best..." He swallowed hard, trying to sit up and finally managing with Crais' assistance.

"Scorpius?" Crais asked, his frown deepening as he felt the tremors going through Crichton's body. "He put you in the Chair again," he said, anger creeping into his tone. He helped Crichton stand, then walked him back to the bedchamber and sat him on the edge of the bed. There he pulled off Crichton's boots and helped him out of the trousers and his underwear. Next, he eased off Crichton's jacket and wrinkled his nose at the smell of Crichton's sweat.

"You need a bath," he commented. "If I had the choice, I would have your clothing incinerated, too -- but then you would be completely defenseless. I will try to find you a new shirt, however. Later." He looked Crichton over, ordered, "Stay here. Do not lie down -- not until after you are clean." Then he walked to the bathroom and set the controls to fill the tub with warm water.

When Crais returned, Crichton looked up at him and after some effort, asked, "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you are filthy," Crais answered, knowing that was not the question Crichton was asking. He didn't know the answer to the real question...

"No -- I know that. I've been tortured and locked up for days -- of course I'm filthy. I mean why are you helping me?"

"I'm not helping you," Crais denied, pulling him to his feet. As he stood, Crichton's face drained of all colour, and Crais supported him until he was relatively certain he wouldn't pass out.

"'Course you're not," Crichton said, following Crais to the bathroom without protest -- he wasn't about to turn down the chance at a warm bath! As he approached, he saw Crais looking him up and down, knew where his focus was lingering... "Oh," he said, brushing past the Sebacean, "Yeah, I guess you're just keeping your toys in good shape -- don't like to share with the playground bully?" He climbed into the tub without any prompting, sighing as he settled into the warm water, then finally looked up at Crais again. "Got any industrial strength soap and some steel wool?"

Crais looked confused for a moment and Crichton wondered exactly what the translator microbes thought he was asking for, then Crais opened a cabinet and took out something that resembled a loofah -- if you ignored its bright orange stripes. "You can scrub yourself with this -- it will do the job quite well," Crais said; but when he reached out for it, Crais pulled it back and dunked it into the water himself, then began scrubbing Crichton's back.

He groaned, once again surprised by Crais' gentleness and skill, relishing the way the aches fled as the Sebacean worked on his back. "Feels pretty good," he murmured, unaware that he had spoken aloud until Crais chuckled.

"Don't expect me to bathe all of you -- I'm only doing this because you can't reach." Crais rinsed his back clean, then handed him the loofah and stepped back to dry his hands.

"Yeah," Crichton answered, starting on a leg as he studied his captor. "So, why are you helping me?"

"You said it yourself, Crichton: I am trying to ensure that my property sustains minimal damage," Crais answered -- it almost sounded like he believed it.

"Property. Meaning me..."

"Yes, meaning you. I told you yesterday that if anyone was going to kill you, it would be me. I meant that. Scorpius is overstepping his bounds, and I will not allow him to continue to do so."

"Doesn't seem like you've got much choice there," Crichton observed, scrubbing his arms and taking extra care around the shoulder that Scorpius had bitten. "Seems like his word here is law..."

"We shall see about that," Crais murmured. He stood by, watching, as Crichton finished his bath, then held the towel to wrap around him when he climbed from the tub. "Definitely an improvement," he commented as Crichton towelled himself dry.

"You're not kidding," Crichton answered, "Was getting to the point where I couldn't stand being in the same room with me..." Looking at Crais, he realized the Sebacean was once again staring at him; lust burning in his eyes.

"In the bed, Crichton, now," Crais growled, pulling the towel away from him.

"But--" Didn't he realize what Scorpius was up to?

Crais growled in frustration and said, "No buts, get in the bed!" When Crichton continued to stare at him instead of moving, he reached out and wrapped his hand around Crichton's cock and pulled gently. "The bed."

"Okay, okay," Crichton said quickly, following where Crais tugged. "You can let go, I'm going..." He swallowed hard and thought, Okay, you are insane...And I have no idea why I'm letting this happen. He climbed into Crais' bed and barely had the time to make himself comfortable before the Sebacean was on him, pinning him down and rubbing his hands up and down his sides. He gasped and arched up into Crais, shocked at the sudden heat that flooded him; at the arousal that brought his cock up hard only moments after Crais kissed him roughly.

Crichton pulled back, gasping for breath and trying to say something; in his hunger, Crais was not willing to listen. Instead, he fastened his hands on Crichton's buttocks and pulled them closer together, grinding his groin into Crichton's impressive erection. In mere moments, they were writhing together, cocks aching with need; breath coming in quick, desperate pants. He managed to find enough control to pull back and order, "On your stomach, Crichton!"

Crais stood, stripping off his clothes as quickly as he could, pleased to see that Crichton had made himself comfortable by the time he was finished -- except for one thing. He smiled slightly and grabbed one of the pillows, then touched Crichton's hip and said, "Lift up for a moment."

When Crichton complied, Crais slid the pillow under his hips to help him achieve a better position. Crais took a moment to just look at the beautifully strong body lying before him; the muscular thighs spread to allow him to kneel between them; the firm buttocks raised enticingly by the pillow. His gaze travelled up Crichton's body, appreciating the fit musculature. He was certain that Crichton was more muscular than he had been when they first met -- life as a fugitive seemed to be good for the human...Self-consciously, he had to admit that he had become somewhat less trim than he used to be -- perhaps the extra exercise he would be getting with Crichton would help...

Crichton twitched his hips and murmured, "Thought you couldn't wait..." Knowing that Crais was standing behind him doing god knew what made him nervous, and as much as he wanted to deny it, he was horny enough that waiting was difficult. "What the hell are you--"

He stopped short as Crais climbed back onto the bed, kneeling between his legs and rubbing warm hands up and down his back. Crais sighed and said, "So, you do want me..." His hands slid down to knead Crichton's buttocks and Crichton moaned, beginning to thrust into the pillow. Passions inflamed by Crichton's motions, Crais reached for the lubricant and squeezed out enough to spread on his cock and ensure that he would not cause Crichton further injury. They were both too aroused for gentle preparation, and he suspected that Crichton didn't want it any more than he did at the moment. Instead, he planned to take his captive hard and fast and remind Crichton of his place.

Crichton could feel Crais positioning himself and tried to make himself relax, suddenly reminded that he was not among friends and that nothing was forcing Crais to treat him the way he had the first time... And then the head of Crais' cock was pressing into him, splitting him open in one long, powerful thrust. The pain was less than Crichton had anticipated; by the time Crais had covered him with his body and grasped one of his wrists, it had faded completely, replaced by pleasure that felt like a smouldering fire deep within him. Somewhere in the back of his mind a voice clamored a warning -- he was enjoying this far too much to honestly say he didn't want it; there had been ample opportunity to cause Crais enough damage that he wouldn't be interested in sex, and instead he had lain on the bed and allowed it. Twice. What that said about him, he wasn't really sure he wanted to know... And then Crais began to fuck him, and the voice in the back of his mind was drowned out by the incredible rush of sensation.

He groaned as Crais ploughed into him -- the first time had been intense, but somehow caring. This time there was no sign of anything resembling gentleness -- and yet Crais was still taking enough care to make sure he enjoyed himself, too; angling his strokes just the right way to make him quiver helplessly in pleasure and spread his legs even more. The Sebacean growled like some kind of wild beast, the hand that pinned his right arm to the bed digging into his wrist almost painfully while Crais reached up and grabbed his hair with his other hand.

Unable to get a good grip on the short hair, Crais snarled and released it, then slid his hand down to grasp Crichton's erection. The shudder and moan of pleasure that escaped the human was nearly enough by itself to send Crais over the edge, and he knew it wouldn't be long -- they were both too close. He drove into Crichton almost savagely, trapping him between the cock invading his eager body and the hand that masturbated him expertly, and decided that he would make Crichton come first; keeping some small measure of control over the human since his own control seemed to suffer so badly when they were together.

Crichton writhed beneath him, back into his savage strokes and forward into his hand; making those helpless moans that fanned the fire that burned in his aching balls. Then suddenly Crichton was crying out, bucking in violent orgasm, his muscles spasming around Crais' cock and dragging him into the rushing tide. He emptied himself into the beautiful, helpless body beneath him; the two of them collapsing into a sweating, gasping tangle of limbs when the spasms finally faded...

Much to his relief, Crais was the first one to move, carefully withdrawing and surreptitiously checking for any signs of blood. This time, Crichton seemed to be uninjured, and he was too spent to worry about cleaning them up. He flopped down on the bed next to Crichton, weakly brushing the strands of hair that had escaped from his ponytail out of his face, then he propped himself up enough to roll Crichton onto his side facing him. Pulling the pillow out of the way and tossing it aside for cleaning, he then pulled the bedspread up to cover them both and watched as Crichton's eyes flickered open.

"Holy dren..." Crichton murmured, trying to focus on Crais. At least the Sebacean had the decency to be winded... "I don't know how you do it," he said, finally catching his breath, "It's like my body stops being my own when you...I never would have guessed that you were so...Frell, Crais, how did you learn how to do that?"

"That is no business of yours, Crichton," Crais answered, unable to work up the anger he would have felt if the human had asked him that just a few short days before. "And your body is not your own anymore, it belongs to me."

Crichton stared at him, realizing that he had once again allowed himself to become too comfortable, just because Crais had given him a truly amazing fucking. "I told you before that someone seems to disagree with that, Crais -- I also told you that this is a mistake. Scorpy's using us both to get his sick thrills."

Crais' eyes narrowed and he responded, "He can't watch here, Crichton; I already told you that. Stop worrying."

"Come on, Crais, don't be stupid," Crichton said, irritated that Crais could be so overconfident about this one thing; "What do you think I've been reliving in that goddamned chair all morning?!" Surprise flashed across Crais' face for an instant and he thought, Yeah, didn't think of that, did you... He propped himself up on an elbow and said, "He's dangerous, Crais -- not just to me, but to you, too. I think he's trying to find some way to get you out of his way...or worse. You know, he's been paying an awful lot of attention to my memories of you, specifically."

"Yes," Crais answered unhappily, "I'm sure he has." For a moment, Sebacean and human looked at each other with perfect understanding.

Crichton almost felt sympathy for Crais -- almost. And then the moment was shattered by the buzz of the intercom. Crais stood and strode to his desk, activating the comm and asking, "What is it?"

"Your time is up, Captain. I want to see both Crichton and you in the Aurora Chair chamber," Scorpius' voice issued from the speaker. The smugness of his tone sent a chill down Crichton's spine, and Crais' grim expression when he glanced over at the bed only made things worse. "Now, Captain," Scorpius added, obviously expecting a confirmation.

"It will take a couple of microns, Scorpius," Crais answered coldly, shutting off the comm before the scientist could add anything else.

"Great," Crichton said, standing up. "This ought to be a barrel of laughs. Guess I'll need that shirt now..."


Hastily dressed and cleaned up, Crais and Crichton walked out of Crais' quarters, finding two of Scorpius' guards waiting outside for them. When one of them moved to restrain Crichton, Crais shook his head and said, "No. He will not try to escape."

The guard eyed Crichton with suspicion, but stepped back and allowed him to walk with them. When they arrived at the Aurora Chair chamber, Crichton nervously eyed Scorpius, watching his reaction closely. The half-breed studied him for a moment, then turned his focus to Crais, his nostrils flaring briefly. His expression turned predatory and he stalked towards them.

"Put Crichton in the Chair," he instructed the guards, then he fixed Crais with a piercing gaze. "Captain Crais," he said quietly, "our captive has still not told us everything he knows -- I am going to let you run the questioning this time, since your...private interrogation has been equally unproductive."

"Frell," Crichton muttered under his breath, wishing he could see Crais' expression. Especially when Crais nodded.

"Very well," Crais answered, turning to look at Crichton, his eyes unreadable. With one quick signal to Niem the Chair sliced into Crichton's mind, and Crais immediately began grilling him about wormholes -- and only wormholes. Despite the agony it was almost a relief to be tortured strictly for information, even if it wasn't any information he could give. Almost a relief, that was, until Crais ordered the intensity turned up...

Crichton looked up at Crais, not sure if he had managed to keep the hurt and betrayal from showing in his eyes, and answered him, "I'm not...blocking...anything," then paused, alarmed by the laugh that bubbled from his lips before he finished, "about wormholes..."


They had dragged him back to the cell and thrown him in; leaving him alone with Stark and the voice in the back of his mind that ridiculed him for ever having trusted Crais. He had been dismayed to find Crais joining in the questioning, the cruelty the Sebacean had displayed hurting him far more than he had wanted to admit. Had Crais decided to cooperate with Scorpius in an attempt to escape the fate they had suspected would come? Or was this vicious, sadistic Peacekeeper the real Bialar Crais? Part of him wanted so badly to believe that it wasn't...

Waiting for the next round, he had discovered the truth about Stark's mental state, although he felt that his cellmate was in complete denial about the true longterm effects of the Chair on an individual's sanity... After all, he actually thought they could escape sometime during their lifetimes with his cobbled together device...

And then Gilina -- sweet, wonderful Gilina had contacted him, giving him the one ray of hope that existed in the bleak nightmare his life had become: she would try to do something to make them back off; to give him time to recover his strength. He could no longer fool himself -- he knew the Chair was doing damage every time he was subjected to it. It was only a matter of time until his will -- or his mind -- shattered. This gave him something to cling to, to keep him going. She would see what she could do -- and as a Tech she could be in the position to do something; especially when his next visit to the Chair was delayed by an overhaul mandated by Scorpius in an attempt to boost the power output. As if it needed any increasing...

By the time she finally contacted him, he had nearly given up that hope, too; her call coinciding with the return of his tormentors. Before he could say anything to stop it, Stark leapt up and began babbling at them, distracting the guards long enough for Gilina to pass on her message. Desperate for some relief; for somebody to trust, Crichton clung to her advice like a drowning man: Remember when we kissed on the Zelbinion.

He cringed as Crais savagely beat Stark back, his cellmate letting out a yelp of real pain as he was thrown against the wall. Remember the kiss! Whatever she had done, it was their last hope -- if this failed, Gilina would also be exposed -- it had to work. Remember the kiss -- I can do that...

Gilina disconnected just in time -- Scorpius entered the cell and sneered at Crais, then asked, "Have you finished?"

Tersely, Crais answered, "Yes," and then Scorpius approached Crichton.

"You see, Crichton...this is what I'm trying to keep you from," Scorpius said softly, pleased to see the conflict within him.

Staring straight ahead, Crichton said, "Yeah, Scorpy...you're all heart." Scorpius motioned to the guards, who hauled Crichton to his feet and held him upright between them. He tried to stand on his own, only to have his legs crumple beneath him, leaving him leaning entirely on the guards.

Scorpius looked down on him, savouring his helplessness. Calmly, he said, "You show me everything that's in your brain, and I won't torture you anymore."

Yeah, right, Crichton thought, you'll just rape me without having the excuse of information gathering... He swallowed hard and attempted to sound strong, but couldn't bring himself to look at Scorpius. "I've shown you everything."

"The chair indicates that you're holding back."

"Chair's wrong." Shit -- welcome to John Crichton's bluff-o-rama... He could feel Scorpius' gaze on him, but still stared off into the middle distance.

Scorpius moved even closer, his voice dropping even more. "What won't you tell me? I already know everything else. I know you're living on a stolen leviathan with escaped prisoners. And I know that leviathan is pregnant."

Unable to stop himself, Crichton asked, "You know who the daddy is?" and laughed madly. I really am losing it! he thought, alarmed by his lack of control.

Scorpius moved even closer, studying him intensely and sensing his discomfort. Did the human actually not understand what the Chair could do to him? "Why are you doing this to yourself?" he asked softly, studying his energy signature, intrigued by the conflicting flares of emotion he could sense. "What is so important...that you're willing to go through all of this?"

For the first time, Crichton lifted his head and met Scorpius' gaze, gathering every ounce of strength to answer, "I'm not blocking anything."

Scorpius stared into his eyes, easily reading the lie there. Continuing to hold Crichton's gaze, he ordered, "Bring him," and then turned to walk away.

The guards pulled him forward and he stumbled, giving Crais enough time to close the distance and lean close. Meeting the blue gaze, Crais purred, "I'm going to enjoy ripping the truth out of you, Crichton."

All he could do was stare up at the Sebacean, trying desperately to read him and failing...Part of his mind jibbered that if he wasn't about to have his mind turned inside-out by Crais, the Peacekeeper's stance and tone would have been almost sexy...And then Crais signaled to the guards, and they dragged him out of the cell...


He didn't know how she did it -- he didn't even know it was possible; but somehow Gilina delivered, producing a false memory that was utterly damning to Crais. Trembling in agony but so relieved he nearly fainted, Crichton saw the terror in Crais' eyes as Scorpius turned his ghoulish attention to him. Somehow, he managed to talk himself into ignoring the pain and betrayal that he could read behind the fear -- after all, it was only fair... The Peacekeeper tried to deny the events the memory showed, but there they were on the screen for all to see -- John Crichton and Captain Bialar Crais collaborating; the wormhole technology in exchange for his life. It was almost funny...

Tasting Crais' fear, Scorpius walked to Crichton's side and studied him closely, asking him, "What is that, hmm?"

Still twitching, every breath more a spasm of his diaphragm than a true intake of air, Crichton managed to answer, "I don't know. Kinda looks like an episode of 'Melrose Place.'"

Furious, Crais ducked under part of the Chair's frame and leaned in closer, demanding, "What do you mean, you don't know what it is?"

"I don't know."

"Tell him! What is it?" Crais yelled, first hitting the frame and then punching Crichton in the stomach.

Scorpius turned to look with disgust at Crais' display of temper, then returned his intense scrutiny to Crichton. The human continued to twitch, and it was more than obvious that his blue gaze was not focused on anything. Then, quietly, he asked, "Is that it, Crais? Is the game up?"

Crais stared at him, shocked, and asked, "What?"

Then, knowing the damage it could do but unwilling to suffer any further for someone he was now convinced had just been using him, Crichton played along with the false memory, softly explaining, "Crais... first found out about wormholes when I came through. I gave him the information disk in exchange for my life."

Scorpius turned to look at Crais, paying close attention to how he reacted to this. The mixture of fear and pleading in the Sebacean's eyes was most interesting -- almost as if he wanted to beg Crichton to be quiet...

Unable to escape the nightmare, but beginning to realize that somehow Crichton had rigged the memory in order to deflect some of the unwanted attention he had been receiving, Crais yelled, "That's a lie!" and backhanded Crichton savagely across the face.

Finding Crais' savagery distasteful, Scorpius looked away, missing the desperation in Crais' expression. Crichton spat out some blood from his split lip, seeing Crais' desperation but no longer caring. He smiled humourlessly, and said, "No, it's not."

Crais snapped, lunging at Crichton and grabbing his jaw in a painfully strong grip, as if he could squeeze the words out of the human's mouth. "He's lying! Damn you, Crichton! Tell him the truth!"


They left Crichton strapped in the Chair, twitching feebly with the lingering pain screaming through his nerves, while Scorpius expertly maneuvered Crais into a corner. Part of him regretted having to hurt Crais in order to buy himself some relief, but Crais had used him; had betrayed him by participating in his torture. There was no reason for him to care about the pain Crais would soon be experiencing -- after all, Crais hadn't cared about him...

And if, afterwards, Scorpius wanted to give Crais some of his special treatment, that was only fair, too. There was no reason to feel sorry for the Sebacean if Scorpius raped him; no reason to feel guilty for being the instrument of Crais' ruin...

So, Crichton thought as the guards dragged him back to the cell and others forced Crais into the Chair, Why don't I feel any better?

They threw him back into the cell and he lay there, shuddering and shivering until Stark scrambled to him and helped him crawl over to the wall. Stark propped him up against the wall in the weak sunlight coming through the filthy window, trying to get him as warm and comfortable as possible. Crichton coughed and said, "I don't know how she did it. But-- but she did it." He wanted to say more; about what he had done to Crais, but he just couldn't.

Very gently, Stark said, "Rest, Crichton." He could see the pain and turmoil in his cellmate, knew that there was more going on than just simple torture and Scorpius' sick games. The Peacekeeper captain, Crais, had reacted differently to Crichton than most jailors did to their captives...

Stubbornly, Crichton protested, "No. Nonono, we gotta do something. I got to get that door open." He tried to stand but his body ignored his brain's commands, nerves misfiring and muscles spasming, dumping him unceremoniously onto his side. Stark frowned and pulled him partially into his lap, trying to comfort him, desperately wanting to relieve some of his pain. Crichton had been the only one in two cycles who had cared -- he had to do something for him.

Steeling himself, Stark unstrapped his mask and revealed himself to Crichton, the warm glow bathing the human in his lap. "Here." He opened himself to Crichton, allowing him to feel the closeness he felt; the longing to keep his friend safe.

"Huh...What is that?" Crichton asked, looking up at him. He was amazed at what he had felt, and now understood why Stark had been willing to suffer so much to distract them when Gilina had contacted him. "What did you just show me?"

Stark explained, "I'm able to give a few thoughts, that's all. Rest, my friend." Feeling slightly selfconscious now, he put the mask back on. Then he stroked Crichton's hair gently, hoping that he hadn't done anything to upset the human.

Crichton lay in his lap, looking up at him in amazement as Stark explained about his people; how the Peacekeepers had killed nearly all of them, and about what he realized must have been the way he survived the past two years: "What I know deep inside, Peacekeepers will never see."

He continued stroking Crichton's hair, until the human finally fell asleep. He couldn't do more to take away Crichton's pain, but he could at least keep him as comfortable as possible; and hope that the Peacekeeper woman had managed to buy him enough time to recover his strength...


Once the guards fastened Crais into the Chair, Scorpius ordered them out of the room, giving them strict instructions that he not be disturbed except in a dire emergency. Then he climbed onto the Chair platform and stared down at Crais. "So defiant, Captain," he purred, smiling as the Sebacean strained against his bonds, "but it will not do you any good..."

"Release me at once, Scorpius!" Crais ordered, "First Command will hear about this!"

"First Command?" Scorpius scoffed, "More likely, they will thank me for finally reining you in..." As Crais looked up at him, snarling and continuing to struggle, he reached down to cup the Sebacean's bearded chin. "And, I will be most interested to learn about your...arrangement with Crichton..."

"I've made no arrangement with Crichton!" Crais protested, jerking his head away from Scorpius' touch. "The whole thing is a lie!"

"Of course it is, Captain," Scorpius purred, "That's why you've been sharing your bed with him..."

"That's a lie!" Crais snarled, knowing it was useless even as he said it.

Scorpius cocked his head and studied him closely, then quietly said, "You were the first one to take him; he called you a 'cock-tease', and he told you I do not trim my nails..." Crais' expression changed rapidly from shock to fury as he remembered what Crichton had said.

"So you did question him about me in the Chair... And tell me, Scorpius, did this false memory of our supposed deal happen to come up then?"

"No, it did not. But as I said, the Chair indicated he was hiding something -- obviously, he was trying to protect you, knowing that if your arrangement was discovered, you would lose your power and therefore be unable to protect him."

"That's a lie!" Crais growled again, realizing that he would not be able to talk himself out of what was about to happen.

"We shall see," Scorpius purred, straightening and looking at Niem. He signaled, and she activated the chair.

Memories flashed across the screen: Crichton facing him in Maldis' lair, trying to convince him that killing his brother was an accident; an older man with curly black hair and caramel coloured skin speaking to two young boys, "The recruiter is here to pick you up. I'm counting on you to protect him! He is your brother."

Crais screamed, and Scorpius asked, "Who is that?"

"My...father. Turn it off!"

Scorpius purred, "Don't you like your past, Crais?"

"Turn it off!"

Scorpius looked back at Niem and asked, "Can't you get to what he knows about wormholes?"

She shook her head and answered, "No, he's fighting it." She changed a setting and turned the output up.

Crais screamed again and struggled in the chair, then yelled, "I don't know anything!"

Scorpius signaled sharply to Niem and she cut the power, leaving Crais gasping in the chair. "Yes, Scorpius?"

"Leave us. I will summon you when I am ready," Scorpius said, continuing to study Crais. Once Niem had left the room, he stepped close again and asked, "What is it about your past that you dislike so, Captain? It certainly cannot be the time you spent on the farming commune with your family -- your closeness to your brother made it more than evident that you were happy with them. But you understand the Peacekeeper way too well for it to be the fact that you were taken from them...

"So," Scorpius mused, walking to the Chair's controls and reaching for the switch, "What is it?"

"No -- don't!" Crais ordered, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. Already knowing it was hopeless, he steeled himself for the pain as Scorpius turned the Chair on.

"What is it about your past that you dislike so?" Scorpius repeated, directing his attention towards those memories. Images of Crais and his brother in Peacekeeper basic training flashed across the screen in a quick succession: endurance runs over hostile terrain, Crais helping his brother up when he stumbled and cut himself on the rocks; row upon row of students practicing kata in a huge hall; the elder Crais watching a sparring match with impotent fury as Tauvo was beaten down by one of the older students...

"How interesting," Scorpius mused, "It doesn't seem your brother was exactly Peacekeeper material..."

"He managed," Crais growled, an edge of anger in his tone that told Scorpius he had hit a nerve. An image flashed across the screen of a later sparring match where Crais faced the student who had beaten Tauvo. The elder Crais efficiently and coldly defeated his sparring partner, barely acknowledging him after the fight, then turned to stalk from the mat. Keeping his face completely neutral, he caught Tauvo's gaze, and for an instant his eyes gleamed with triumph, returning to neutral the instant the instructor turned his way...

"He managed, it seems, with your assistance..." Scorpius mused. He stepped from the platform and stood at the controls, his hand hovering over the switch as he said, "It must have been difficult to help him as much as you wanted to before you became an officer..."

"None of this is any of your business, Scorpius," Crais ground out before he gasped in pain and choked back a scream. "None of this has anything to do with Crichton!"

"Actually, I think it does..." Scorpius purred, "It is obvious to me that you pushed yourself to become the best you could." He paused to watch the images of Crais in training, constantly excelling in every discipline. "But, with a background like yours, you would have needed a sponsor to enter officer training. With you paying so much attention to your brother's safety, how did you attract a sponsor?"

"Why does it matter?" Crais gasped as Scorpius turned the power up further. The Chair sliced into his mind, a black flame burning his brain to cinders. The pain seared along every nerve, his fingernails cutting into his palms hard enough to draw blood; he screamed again, a harsh, ragged cry of agony -- and then suddenly, mercifully, the pain stopped. The red haze cleared from his vision to reveal Scorpius standing right in front of him, blocking the image frozen on the screen.

Dread gripped him, making his chest constrict and his already sore throat close on his next breath. Choking, trying to blink away the tears that streamed involuntarily from his eyes, he asked, "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Crichton has no idea how you became so skilled in bed, does he..." Scorpius mused, studying Crais' expression as he slowly stepped out from in front of the small screen. Much to his satisfaction, the Sebacean's eyes widened and colour rose in his cheeks as he saw the answer his mind had provided.

Crais closed his eyes, not needing to see any more, the memory already burned indelibly into his mind. The image showed him lying in a passionate embrace with an older man -- a Peacekeeper officer by the look of the uniform draped over a chair near the bed -- obviously in the midst of servicing him. "Why should I tell him?" he growled, opening his eyes again to glower up at Scorpius.

"Did you actually sleep your way into a sponsorship, Crais?" Scorpius asked, savouring the emotions roiling within his captive. "Will you tell me, or do I need to turn the Chair back on?"

Crais swallowed and said, "No, I did not. I was already officer material -- I had made sure of that! I just..."

"Needed something to make someone notice you..." Scorpius finished for him. "You know, I had heard rumours about you, but I dismissed them as jealous talk from those who thought a poor boy from a farming commune should never have taken an officer spot away from them..." His words had the desired effect; he could feel the embarrassment warring with Crais' anger, feel shame beginning to creep up on him. Now to inflict some delicious pain...

Crais frowned at him and said, "I did what I had to do -- every candidate has to sell him or herself in some way or another. I did nothing wrong!"

"No, that is true -- you wouldn't be the first, either, and you did at one time seem to have the skills needed to be an officer. It's such a pity you wasted them over Crichton, and your brother's death..." Scorpius smiled as he felt the pain his words caused. "Of course, your brother would never have been put in a position where he could be hurt like that, if you hadn't assigned him to a position above his ability..."

"How dare you!?" Crais growled, renewing his struggles against the bonds. "Tauvo was an excellent pilot! I chose him for that position because it was his best chance at succeeding!"

"And he didn't succeed, did he..." Scorpius said, savouring the pain as his words cut into Crais. "Because you made him one of your elite pilots, he died... I don't think that's what your father meant when he told you to protect him..."

"Damn you, Scorpius, I will--" Crais cut himself off before he could say something too damaging.

"You will what, Captain?" Scorpius purred, stepping closer. "Kill me? Somehow I doubt that...After all, there's still the matter of your arrangement with Crichton..." He grasped Crais' chin again and leaned close. "At some point, perhaps you can demonstrate your prodigious skills to me. Perhaps we can come to some kind of agreement..."

He released Crais' chin and reached down to grab his captive's crotch. As he fondled Crais' cock and balls, the Sebacean stared straight ahead, trying not to retch with disgust. "Ah," Scorpius purred, disappointed but not surprised when Crais' organ remained soft, "Sebacean discipline. Something Crichton seems to lack... You know he responded to me quite eagerly, actually..."

"Humans seem to have little control over their reactions," Crais answered, trying to remain in control of his anger -- and the surprising amount of hurt that revelation caused. Crichton had mentioned rape; he had even said that Scorpius told him he didn't have the physical discipline of a Sebacean -- but he had never actually said that he had responded. And definitely not in any kind of way that could be considered 'eager'...

"Yes...which must be why he responded to you, also," Scorpius whispered in his ear before releasing him and returning to the control panel.

Crais choked, trying to tell himself that it was the pain and the screaming that caused it; tried to squash down the anger and hurt that he knew Scorpius was reading off him. The half-breed was playing him, using him to get his sick satisfaction -- Crichton had been right all along, the creature was playing with all of them! And yet, his words caused just enough doubt -- had he been imagining all of it? Had Crichton's willingness all been his body's weakness, his inability to control his reactions? He had been so sure...

And then Scorpius flicked the switch and the Chair sliced into his mind again. "Now tell me what you know about wormholes -- you've got no reason to protect the human now!" Scorpius' voice growled as the pain burned through him. He screamed...

...Later, as Crais sat twitching in the Chair, much as Crichton had done when they had pushed him to his limits; Scorpius and Niem discussed the fact that he knew nothing about wormholes. The memory he had been hiding was his murder of Lieutenant Teeg, to keep anyone else under him from knowing of the recall orders from First Command...

He shuddered, sweat and tears running down his face as Scorpius received a message about a security breach. He was far happier than he knew he should be when it became evident that Crichton had escaped. Even though they left him bound there, it was worth it to see Scorpius confounded for the moment; hurrying out of the room with the instructions, "Seal the base; everything. He must not reach the surface."

He sighed with relief when they abandoned him in the chamber; his every nerve screaming with the residual pain; muscles twitching randomly from the overstimulation. If this was what one trip in the Chair felt like... He could only imagine what the repeated sessions Crichton had suffered through had done to the human. And he had even contributed to the torture -- no wonder Crichton had framed him so vindictively...


Stark managed to escape up the stairs to the surface, scurrying off before the rest of them could join him. Crichton couldn't blame him -- two years in this hellhole was more than anyone should have to endure. He wished desperately that he had managed to escape, too, though -- the thought of having to submit once more to Scorpius' tender mercies was giving him the shakes...

They managed to hide just in time, Niem following closely behind and actually stopping to stand on the grating right over their heads. It was all he could do to restrain the terrified whimper when he thought she had found them. This is bad -- I'm really losing it here... he thought, feeling the terror eating away at what remained of his sanity.

Once the search party moved on, Aeryn went out to search for a senior officer's ident chip so that they could unlock the passage out. Gilina looked over at Crichton where he huddled against the wall, seeing the haunted look in the bloodshot eyes; the way he curled in upon himself... She knew he had been hurt badly by what Scorpius had put him through, but knew of nothing further she could do to help. When she reached out to gently lay a hand on his arm he flinched away from her, then looked up guiltily and smiled humourlessly.

"Sorry, Gilina -- you...startled me," he murmured, looking at her for a moment, then looking back up at the grating.

She nodded, then whispered, "I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to startle you, John. I just want to help..."

He focused on her again, looked as if he had wanted to say something but lost his resolve. Then he swallowed hard and shivered, and said, "You've already helped so much, Gilina -- I couldn't have lasted another round in that Chair..."

"Just wish I could have kept you out of it from the beginning..." she said, studying him. There was so much more to it, and he just wasn't telling her what it was...He wasn't really telling her anything, actually, as he curled into himself further and closed his eyes. She watched as the shivers coursed through his body, overwhelming sadness filling her as she thought about how alive and vibrant he had been when they met on the Zelbinion... Now, it was as if all hope had been taken from him -- the part of her that had been Peacekeeper-trained wanted to scream at him to snap out of it; the rest of her wanted to hold him and comfort him for as long as it took for him to recover. She swallowed hard, ignoring the lump in her throat, and turned her attention to keeping watch.

At one point, a sound that might have been a scream echoed through the corridors. Crichton's head snapped up so fast she was worried he would hurt himself, and she could have sworn he whispered, "Crais!"

"John?" she asked, seeing the way he looked around as if he couldn't remember where he was. "It's all right..."

Reason -- or at least something resembling it -- returned to his eyes and he asked, "Where's Aeryn? She should be back by now."

Gilina took a deep breath, preparing herself for the question she knew she had to ask before Aeryn returned with their ticket to freedom. "Do you want to be with her, Crichton?"

He looked at her, trying to follow the train of thought. "What?"

Gilina signed and asked again, "Do you want to be with Officer Sun?"

Crichton couldn't restrain a laugh, thinking that there were better times to deal with his somewhat confused romantic entanglements. "Gilina, can we talk about this some other time?"

"No. No, I don't think we can. You want me to go with you. You want me to give up everything I know...so you must answer me. Do you want to be with her?"

A shuffling noise overhead startled them both, until Aeryn opened the grating and said, "It's only me. Let's go."

Crichton asked, "Aeryn, did you bag yourself a senior officer?" They had to get out of there -- fast!

"Ran into an old friend. Let's go," she answered hurriedly -- there wasn't any time to tell him that she had run into Crais, still helpless in the Chair. She was certain he'd appreciate her parting gift to her ex-commander, but it would have to wait.

"Let's get out of here," Crichton agreed, the conversation with Gilina forgotten. The only thing in his mind at the moment was the thought that they now had a chance to escape...


Their escape nearly went according to plan -- that is, until Scorpius managed to grab Crichton when he was a few yards from freedom. For a moment, his thoughts froze, horror overwhelming him at the idea that he had fallen back into the clutches of a creature he considered even more evil than Maldis. And then Gilina stepped out of the ruins and leveled a gun at Scorpius...

He had been so sure -- positive that she wanted that monster dead just as much as he did; instead, she hesitated. Just one second too long, and Scorpius shot her for her efforts. Rage exploded in Crichton, then, and he actually managed to free himself using sheer muscle. He and Stark scooped up Gilina and ran for the transport pod, leaving behind a furious Scorpius...

Once they were safely back aboard Moya, Zhaan treated Gilina's wounds as best she could, knowing it was beyond her ability to save the young Sebacean. Crichton and Stark stayed with them, while the others discussed their situation -- and Moya's new child, a male Peacekeeper-altered Leviathan. Fortunately, Gilina had managed to scramble the Peacekeeper base's data files, keeping them from being able to track Moya; a very welcome blessing, since the offspring made them unable to starburst out of the area.

Crichton stayed with Gilina, knowing that everything Zhaan could do wasn't enough against the energy rifle blast. "Just lie back," he told her gently, "Let Zhaan's medicine do its work. You'll be fine in a little while."

Gilina looked up at him, reading the pain in his eyes. "No more lies, John."

"I'm not lying," he lied. Please, don't make this any harder than it already is...I'd do anything to keep it from happening! "Gilina, why'd you come back for us?"

"I had to help you. Aeryn was right. If I'd stayed there, they would've found out about me. Found out that I...I love you."

Oh god... "Gilina..." She groaned in pain and he looked up, "Zhaan--"

Stark stepped closer, seeing Crichton's distress and Gilina's pain. This Peacekeeper woman had saved Crichton -- he had to do something to ease her way... "May I help?" He paused, then continued, "May I give you this?" He held his hand over her face and projected the memory to her, "It's a place I once saw. I've been carrying it with me a very long time."

"It's beautiful... It's beautiful," Gilina murmured, her gaze no longer focusing on her surroundings, instead looking inward at the vision Stark had given her.

Gently, he said, "There now. Just hold onto it. Don't let go."


Crichton moved close again and asked, "Yeah?"

Hesitantly, Gilina asked, "Do you think...if things had been different...that you could've loved me?"

Oh god... he thought, swallowing hard against the lump in his throat. "Yeah."

"Kiss me one more time--" she murmured.

"Shh -- don't talk."

"Kiss me," she repeated.

He leaned down and kissed her gently, tears threatening to spill over as she sighed out her last breath. "No..." he whispered, his legs giving way now that he didn't have to be strong for her. Stark was there to catch him and support him, helping him over to a bench and holding him as the tears came.


At Crichton's request, Stark reluctantly left his side to assist Zhaan in moving Gilina's body. Murmuring that it was okay, he buried his face in his hands and tried to get his emotions under control. Things had been happening so quickly that he hadn't been able to process everything; all he knew at the moment was that he was free, and Gilina had given her life to help him get that way...

He didn't know how long he sat on the bench, but suddenly someone touched his shoulder. He jumped, badly startled, and before he even realized what he was doing he had leapt to his feet and grabbed the person in a half-nelson. Only once he had the person immobilized did he realize it was Aeryn, her face neutral except for the sadness in her eyes. "John, relax...I just came to say I'm sorry," she soothed, trying not to do anything more to startle or antagonize him. "Let me go, John."

"Aeryn..." he murmured, releasing her as if burned. Stark returned just in time to see her take a step away from Crichton, obviously trying to control her own battle-trained reflexes. "Dren -- Aeryn, I'm sorry..."

"No, John, it's okay, I understand." She took a deep breath and added, "I'll come to talk later, when you're a little less upset..." He nodded but stayed silent, looking down at his hands as if they belonged to someone else and missing the concerned look she gave him before she walked out.

She pulled Stark out with her and stopped out in the corridor, then hissed, "He needs help. He's been badly hurt and now the woman he cared for is dead, saving him. I thought I could talk to him, but now it's like he doesn't even know who I am."

"He's not sure who he is, either," Stark answered from experience. "I was with him in the cell -- I might have a better chance getting through to him."

"Just make sure you do -- we can't afford to have anyone slacking off now," Aeryn said strongly. "If we're not careful, the Peacekeepers will find us, and all of this will have been for nothing." She walked off, leaving Stark standing in the corridor.

After a moment, he forced himself to move, returning to the room to find Crichton sitting against the wall hugging his knees and staring unseeing into the middle distance. "Crichton?" he asked quietly, walking over to him and sitting down next to him. "You with us?"

Crichton turned to look at him and answered, "I...I don't know. I just-- she's dead... she said she loved me, and now she's dead. I never even got a chance to figure out if I loved her..."

"I know you cared for her, Crichton," Stark said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "I know you've been through hell. C'mon, you need some rest. Aeryn's worried about the Peacekeepers finding us, and--"

"And we can't have anyone going around freaking out on the rest of the crew," Crichton said, suddenly focusing on Stark. "Yeah, I know...Aeryn was probably a microt away from snapping my neck..."

Stark stood and reached down to help him up. "Well, she wasn't thrilled..." Crichton grunted and stood with Stark's assistance, then leaned back against the wall as dizziness washed over him.

"You okay?"

"Just a little dizzy -- I think I need to go lie down..."

"Come on," Stark said, supporting him as they left the room. "Tell me which way to go, and I'll get you there."


By the time they got to Crichton's quarters, he was walking on his own again, but Stark could see how pale he was. Between the Chair, the battle to escape, and Gilina's death; Crichton was in shock. He needed to get warm, rest, and recover before dealing with semi-hostile Peacekeeper women -- even if the woman in question was on their side.

Stark sat Crichton down on the edge of his bed and said, "You need to rest. Can you undress on your own, or do you need help?"

Crichton looked up at him and muttered, "It must be my aftershave..."

"What? No, Crichton, you're in shock -- you need to rest and get warm, and these clothes need to be cleaned," Stark explained. "Come on, at least take the boots off..."

Crichton nodded slowly and tried to lean over to unlace the boots, nearly pitched face-first off the bed. Stark caught him and helped him sit back up, then sighed and said, "Let me get the jacket and shirt off, then the boots." Crichton sighed and allowed Stark to strip off his jacket, shirt, and boots. Almost immediately, goosebumps rose all over Crichton's torso and he shivered. "Those trousers, too -- off, now." With some difficulty, Stark stripped the leather trousers off, and tossed them over with the rest of the dirty clothes. He bundled Crichton under the covers, then stripped off his own clothing and slid in behind him.

"What're you doin'?" Crichton asked, already drifting into semi-consciousness.

"Keeping you warm, Crichton, like you did for me," Stark answered softly, "Go to sleep, my friend." He wrapped his arms around Crichton's shivering form, drawing him close and sharing a thought of warmth and comfort. Soon, they both were fast asleep...


...Hands -- leather-clad at first, strong, probing and stroking and coaxing him into arousal. He moaned and arched back, inviting the touch; spreading his legs and allowing the hands to caress, to penetrate. Pleasure flaring from spark to conflagration, centered deep inside and spreading first to his balls and then up his spine and out along every nerve. He moaned; giving himself to his partner, "Oh, yes, Crais," and arched into the skilled touch, forcing the fingers deeper and hissing as they pressed in just the right place--

"Not Crais," that hated voice said, fingers shoving harder into him, the free hand immobilizing him easily as the leather-clad form slid into the bed beside him. "Give yourself to me, Crichton! You are mine -- see how easily I command your body? Come for me!"

Squirming in fear now as his body betrayed him again, helplessly aroused as Scorpius manipulated all those sensitive areas; gasping and panting, begging, "No! Please -- don't do this! Scorpius, stop! Please!"

"Stop!" he screamed, startling out of sleep, gasping for breath, sweat beading his brow and soaking the bedsheets. His cock was painfully, humiliatingly erect; his gasps becoming sobs as both shame and relief flooded him. He realized someone lay in bed with him, a stiff erection pressed against his buttocks; quiet murmuring against his neck. After a brief moment of blinding fear, he realized he and Stark lay in his bed on Moya, and whispered, "It was a nightmare -- it wasn't real!"

Stark moaned and moved against him, and he felt the hard cock nudge against his ass; one hand sliding from where it rested on his waist to stroke down towards his groin; warm hand closing around his aching erection. "Oh god..." Crichton gasped as Stark began to thrust against him and pump his cock. It felt so good, but... Should I wake him up? Can't take advantage of him... Crichton thought, moaning as his body ignored his concerns and responded to the pleasure. "Ooh..." he moaned, then leaned back against Stark and hissed, "Stark! Hey -- Stark, wake up," all the while thrusting into the hand that pumped him and grinding his hips back into Stark's erection.

"Huh--wha?" Stark gasped, startling awake and nearly letting go of him in his surprise. Crichton closed his own hand over Stark's, keeping it where it was, and moaned softly as Stark's cock twitched against him.

"It's okay -- we were both asleep -- both dreaming... Don't stop now..." Crichton panted an explanation as he turned to partially face Stark and close his hand around the alien's cock. "Feels too good to stop right now..."

"Yeah..." Stark groaned as Crichton began to pump his cock, thrusting eagerly into his hand. They both moaned, then Stark leaned in and kissed Crichton, pleased to feel his cock leap as their tongues battled. Knowing they were both too close to do anything else, they pumped harder, free hands fumbling to touch whatever they could reach to bring more pleasure. They broke the kiss, gasps for air quickly becoming moans of pleasure as they came.

"Oh god," Crichton gasped as Stark milked every drop of cum from his cock, trying to concentrate enough to do the same for his partner when pleasure had short-circuited his mind. As the spasms faded, he drew Stark into a close embrace; buried his face against Stark's neck and chuckled nervously.

"Crichton, are you okay? I -- did I hurt you?" Stark asked nervously, trying to get Crichton to look up so he could see his face.

"No -- not at all," Crichton murmured against his neck, still not looking up; instead allowing his lips to brush Stark's neck as he spoke. He felt a shiver run through Stark, heard his quiet sigh.

"I'm glad I didn't hurt you," Stark said softly, beginning to gently caress Crichton's torso, for the moment avoiding his crotch and focusing on the other areas he could reach. "It's the last thing I'd ever want to do..."

"When you shared that thought earlier -- in the cell -- I could feel..." Crichton paused to gently lick along the pulsing artery in Stark's neck, finally lifting his head as he followed the path into the hollow of Stark's throat and savouring the murmur that rumbled through his partner. Finally opening his eyes and meeting Stark's heated gaze, he continued, "I could feel how you wanted to be with me -- I thought it was just because I was the only one who's been nice to you in the past two cycles and I didn't want to take advantage of that..."

"That may be part of the reason, Crichton," Stark answered honestly, "after everything I've been through, I don't really know. But you know what? I don't care, either." He turned in the bed, pulling Crichton atop himself; making it easier for him to reach more of Crichton's body. He smiled up at Crichton and ran his hands gently over Crichton's back, down to his waist, then dipping teasingly down to his buttocks. "You can't imagine how good it feels to do something because I want to..."

Crichton smiled down at him and said, "Well, it wasn't so long for me, but I think I know how you feel..." He hissed softly as Stark brushed fingers over his tailbone, feeling his cock beginning to stir again. He slid a thigh between Stark's, feeling the alien's cock responding in kind, the quiet groan that escaped his partner sending a shiver of arousal through him. "But I gotta tell you, I'm feeling a little confused." At Stark's puzzled look, he explained, "Voluntary or not, I've had more sex recently than I have my whole time out in the Uncharted Territories -- I never knew I was this much of a slut, but..."

"Why do you say that -- does your kind not usually have sex for pleasure?" Stark asked, looking up at him with curiosity.

"Oh no, we do all the time -- sometimes too much; but I -- first Scorpy, then Crais, and now you... I don't usually bed-hop like that."

Stark frowned and said, "Well, I hope you're not lumping me in with the two of them -- I'm not forcing you..."

"No -- no, Stark...I didn't mean it that way -- but Crais didn't force me either...I uh-- I could have stopped him a bunch of times. Or at least I could've fought...instead I let him...I wanted it..."

"What is it between you two, anyway? It's obvious there's some history..." Stark asked, continuing to gently stroke Crichton's back.

"I killed his brother," Crichton explained, "Accidentally. He...kind of obsessed on it. Hunted me across the Territories; Scorpius must have leaked the information that I'd been captured..."

"More of Scorpy's games," Stark murmured, not wanting to pursue that thought to its logical conclusion. They were free of him now; no reason to dwell on what he had done to them... "So, you liked being with Crais -- did he hurt you? Did he seem like he wanted to hurt you?"

"No, he didn't. He was angry that Scorpius had -- of course, he said that it was because he wouldn't allow anyone to hurt me but him..." Crichton answered with a wan smile. "The problem is he thinks I belong to him..."

Stark met the blue gaze and said, "I take it that's not an attitude your kind is accustomed to..."

Once again, the fact that he wasn't talking to a human hit Crichton and he blinked, remembering what Stark had said about his own people. "Uh...no, not really. Although in our history it's not entirely unknown..." Then he shook his head and said, "Hey, let's not talk about Crais anymore, huh?" He changed positions, sitting up to straddle Stark's hips and stroke his chest and sides, smiling as he felt Stark purr and arch into his caresses.

"Yeah, that's a good idea..." Stark murmured as Crichton slid his hands up to stroke gently over his pecs, feeling a rush of arousal as the alien groaned and writhed beneath him, his cock hardening quickly now. A memory flashed across Crichton's mind's eye; himself lying much as Stark was now, with Crais straddling his hips, trapping his erection beneath him. Arousal burned through him at the memory of Crais' heavy-handed touch; the skilled fingers that had brought such a surprising amount of pleasure... He forced his attention back to the present, horrified by the fact that he was fantasizing about Crais when he was in bed with Stark -- even if Stark didn't seem to notice any lapse. Gently pinching Stark's nipples into hardness, he chalked it up to the conversation they had been having and forced it to the back of his mind.

Stark groaned and reached down to stroke Crichton's thighs, gently running his nails up and down the sensitive skin closer to his groin, then closed his hands on Crichton's hips and ground his hips against Crichton. "Do you feel what you're doing to me?"

Crichton chuckled and asked, "Do you see what you're doing to me?" as he glanced down at his straining cock, smiling crookedly and intensifying his attention to Stark's nipples. "We oughta do something about it..."

"Yeah, we should," Stark agreed, sitting up so that he could wrap his arms around Crichton, pulling him close against his body so that Crichton's cock was trapped between them. He took advantage of Crichton's gasp, kissing him deeply and relishing the way the human responded. Their tongues battled again, Crichton gaining the upper hand once more. Hands probed, stroked, teased; Stark gently ran his nails down Crichton's back, the reaction instant and electric. Crichton gasped into his mouth and surged against him, moaning softly as Stark continued the gentle trail down to his buttocks. Grasping Crichton's buttocks, Stark pulled them both back down to the bed and then turned his attention to taking Crichton's mind off everything that had happened. He wanted Crichton to stop thinking and just enjoy...

Crichton smiled as Stark gently toppled them back to the bed. He straightened out his legs so that he lay partially atop the alien, reaching down with one hand to teasingly explore his erection. Just as he had begun, however, he felt Stark's hands slide across his buttocks, fingertips teasing along the crack. His hand closed convulsively on Stark's hard cock as he felt a gentle probing at his anus. "Ohgod," he breathed, turning his head to kiss Stark again, beginning to gently pump Stark's cock as a fingertip worked its way into him. "Yes..." he whispered against Stark's lips, feeling heat beginning to pool in his belly, slow burn working its way along his nerves as he felt Stark beginning to press a warm thigh against his hard cock. "Ohh-- wait..." he murmured, rolling them onto their sides and shifting so that their cocks pressed against each other -- and gasping as he managed to drive the finger deeper inside himself with his movements.

He shifted his grip, then, taking both of their cocks into his hand, the moan that escaped Stark sending shivers through him. "Yeah, that's better, isn't it..." he murmured, beginning to pump both of them. Stark leaned in and kissed him, and this time he allowed the gentle possession, feeling arousal flood him as Stark's tongue probed his mouth. Pleasure built slowly, until he knew they were both very close. They kissed and nuzzled each other, nipping gently at each other's throat, lips, chin... Stark caught his lower lip in a gentle bite, then probed between his lips with his tongue, pleased when once again he allowed a deeper kiss.

A second finger joined the first, teasing its way into Crichton as he continued to pump their cocks. Suddenly Crichton gasped around Stark's tongue, increased the attention to their cocks as pleasure exploded through them, both cumming at virtually the same moment. He continued to milk them until the tremors faded, sighing softly when Stark's fingers slid out of his body.

Both completely spent, they settled into a comfortable embrace and quickly drifted off to sleep.


Stark woke early in the morning and stepped into the bathroom to deal with necessities. When he emerged, he could tell Crichton was dreaming again; could see the sheets tented on his erection, see him writhing as his dream lover became more insistent. He didn't think it was a nightmare, but he didn't want to take the chance. Walking back to the bed, he gently gripped Crichton's shoulder and shook him. "Wake up, Crichton..."

"Crais!" Crichton gasped, startled out of the dream. He looked up at Stark and blushed crimson as he realized what he had said, what he had been dreaming...Even now he could feel the memory of Crais' insistent touch, the sweet ache as the Sebacean slid into him. "God -- Stark, I'm sorry... I don't know what's wrong with me -- it's like I can't get my mind off him..."

"That's all right," Stark said, sitting next to him on the bed. "At least it wasn't one of the nightmares."

"But it's not all right -- I close my eyes right now and I can still feel him..." Crichton said, drifting off when he realized he couldn't find the words to explain what was going on. "I just -- it won't go away. It's like when Scorpy used the Chair to find out what Crais had done to me, he burned it into my mind so deep it keeps replaying..."

Stark frowned, "You mean he used the Chair to ask you about Crais frelling you? He wanted to see it? Bastard..."

"Yeah," Crichton answered, his voice suddenly rough, "he made me relive it over and over...I know he was getting off on it..." He shuddered and continued, "And then when he was ready, he made me remember what he did to me..." He looked up to see Stark grimacing and asked, "Did he do that to you?"

"Occasionally," Stark said uncomfortably. "But," he continued, lowering his voice and leaning closer to Crichton, "he never seemed to be as interested -- sexually, that is -- in me as he is in you..."

Crichton frowned and muttered, "Great -- it is my aftershave. Gotta switch brands, obviously." Then he turned serious again and looked at Stark. "D'you think it did something -- the Chair, I mean -- to my head? That's why I can't stop thinking about it? I could even feel it when I was in the Chair -- somewhere underneath the pain..." He trailed off and shuddered, staring unseeing into the middle distance for a moment, before he shook himself back to alertness. "I'm losing it, Stark..." he breathed, the nervousness in his tone unsettling both of them.

"Maybe we need to get up and do something normal -- see what's going on with your shipmates, huh?" Stark suggested, gently squeezing his shoulder.

"Yeah, something normal. Right," Crichton joked, leaning against Stark for a moment. "Good idea."


"I'm fine, damn it, Zhaan. Just leave me alone!"

D'Argo and Stark looked at each other and increased their pace, arriving in the dining area at a run. There, they skidded to a halt as Zhaan walked towards them, irritation and concern warring in her face. "Perhaps you should speak with him, Stark. You seem to be able to get through," she murmured, passing them and continuing down the corridor.

Stark could see the Luxan hesitate, trying to decide which of his friends to comfort. Looking into the room and seeing Crichton sitting alone at the table, he said, "Go to her, make sure she's okay. I'll handle John." D'Argo nodded and turned to follow Zhaan, and Stark walked over to Crichton and sat down.

Crichton jumped as he sat next to him, turned to look at the alien who was studying him back. "What?" he asked almost accusingly.

"John, it's all right -- they're worried about you," Stark said softly, reaching out to gently stroke his cheek.

Crichton closed his eyes and let out a long sigh, then leaned back in an attempt to stretch muscles he hadn't realized were tensed. "I know -- it's just that...Damn it, every time someone bumps into me or touches me, I go off on them, and I know they're just worried about me. I just can't..."

"Ssh, it's okay," Stark said, projecting calm as best he could. "You haven't told them what happened, have you..."

"No, why would I -- I don't -- I--" Crichton sighed and tried again, "I can't tell them."

"Why not? It would at least help them understand why you're suddenly so..."

"Afraid?" Crichton asked uncomfortably. "I can't just tell them that Scorpy raped me -- it's not something that... I don't-- oh dren." He took a deep breath and scrubbed a hand over his face, then looked down at the table. "On my world," he said, pausing to clear his throat, "if a guy has sex with another guy, it's not really accepted. Not much, anyway. Most of -- most of society views it as...disgusting. They think that he's not really a guy anymore -- that it makes him less of a man. When a guy is raped, well, obviously he's less of a man, because any man would fight. Any man would be able to stop that kind of thing, and he certainly wouldn't enjoy it!"

"John..." Stark said softly, edging slightly closer and gently encircling Crichton's shoulders with an arm, "do you believe you're less of a man because of what happened?"

"No!" Crichton answered, surprised by the vehemence of his denial. "I dunno... I know intellectually that I didn't have any way to fight Scorpy, but... The attitudes you get raised with; the attitudes of everyone around you -- it's hard to get past that... It's like-- it's like expecting a Peacekeeper to really understand treating other races as individuals, as equals; even when they've had the same treatment from their own kind, part of them still thinks of the others as inferior..."

"The attitudes are so much a part of you that you do it without realizing," Aeryn said, sitting down across from them.

At the sound of her voice, Crichton jumped, badly startled. Stricken, he glanced up at her in time to see the sympathy in her eyes before she continued, "John, did you say that Scorpius raped you?"

He swallowed and asked, "You heard the whole thing?"

She nodded, but continued with her original line of thought, "It's a serious offense, John -- there are many things one is allowed to do to prisoners, but that..."

"You're telling me no Peacekeeper ever rapes their prisoners?" Crichton asked, looking her right in the eyes. "None?" He shook his head and said, "I'm betting it happens all the time..."

His intense stare made her uncomfortable, but she continued to meet it. "It does," she admitted, "but it's still against regulations..."

"Well, we'll just go contact First Command and report him, then, won't we," he growled sarcastically, standing up and storming from the room.

By the time Aeryn managed to open her mouth to ask him to wait, he was already gone. She looked back at Stark and tried to explain, "It's part of the contamination regulations -- it is a serious offense..."

"Doesn't matter with Scorpy," Stark answered, looking down the corridor Crichton had taken, "He's above all of that. I have to--"

"Yes. Take care of him -- I-- I'm sorry..." she answered sadly. He nodded, then followed Crichton, leaving her alone with her thoughts.


Unable to figure out where Crichton had gone, Stark asked Pilot for his location. A few moments later he arrived at the cargo bay where Crichton's module was stored, to find Crichton sitting in the cockpit, hunched over the controls with his face buried in his folded arms. The sight of Crichton's strong shoulders shaking with his sobs made Stark's heart ache.

"Crichton -- John," he said softly, walking to the module, "Please, come with me..."

Crichton looked up and met Stark's gaze, wiped away his tears and nodded. "I'm sorry, Stark... Aeryn's probably pissed again -- I just don't know what's wrong with me -- so damned out of control..." He hopped down to the deck and took a deep breath, then said, "I just -- I dunno."

"John, it's okay," Stark said, closing the distance between them and hugging him gently. "You've been through so much in such a short time, of course you're going to be off balance -- you just have to remember that your friends are trying to help you -- that they're worried about you."

Crichton nodded against him and took a deep, shuddering breath. "Yeah, I know...everything seems to be setting me off, and I just can't--"

"Shh," Stark soothed, "Get some more rest, then we can talk to them later. Let them know that you're having trouble dealing with what happened, and the stress has you on edge..."

Crichton nodded again, then stepped back to stand on his own. "Maybe I could do with a little more rest -- feel like I've been beaten...I'm just so worn out."

"Yeah, I know," Stark agreed, smiling slightly. "I think it's the fact that we finally don't have the daily torture sessions -- nothing to fight against so the adrenaline has finally run out."

"And the endorphins," Crichton added ruefully. "We're both crashing because our bodies have gotten used to being in agony -- that is ridiculous, you know," he said with a bit of a laugh. Stark put an arm around his shoulder and chuckled, sparking another burst of slightly mad laughter from both of them as they staggered down the corridor. "Oh man -- we are well and truly screwed up, Stark," Crichton said, turning to look at his companion.

Stark giggled slightly and nodded, and the two of them continued unsteadily on their way to Crichton's quarters. Once there, Crichton headed straight for the bathroom to deal with necessities. When he was done, he washed up and stuck his head under the stream of water, rinsing the tears from his face and soaking his hair. He straightened again and grabbed a towel, briskly dried his hair so that it was standing up in spikes.

"Huh. Look like I stuck my finger in a light socket," he mumbled, combing his hair into some semblance of neatness with his fingers. Then he stripped off everything except his shorts, and tossed the rest of his clothes onto a chair. Snagging his shirt back for a moment, he activated the communicator. "Pilot?"

"Yes, Commander Crichton," Pilot's voice responded.

"Are we safe at the moment -- heading deeper into the asteroids or something like that?" he asked, glancing over at Stark who paused in stripping, just in case they turned out to be in imminent danger.

"For the time being, the Peacekeepers seem to be searching a different area of the field. Gilina was most efficient at scrambling their data."

"Good," Crichton answered, feeling a pang at the mention of the Peacekeeper tech. "If there's nothing that needs my attention, I'm going to sleep for a while -- I've been a little stressed recently."

"That sounds like an excellent idea, Commander," Pilot answered, and Crichton had to wonder if Aeryn had been talking to Pilot about him. "I will alert you if a situation arises that requires your attention."

"Thanks." Crichton tossed the shirt back to the chair and stretched. "So, we'll get a little sleep, at least..."

He walked to the bed as Stark finished stripping, noticed that he hadn't stopped at his underwear. Somewhat self-consciously, he stripped off his own shorts, then climbed into bed and flopped down into the pillows. Stark slid into the bed next to him and gently wrapped his arms around him. "Sleep, John, you'll feel better when you wake up..."

"Yeah, that's a good idea..." Crichton answered, yawning. He snuggled into the embrace and drifted off in moments, Stark not far behind.


Crais sighed and slid deeper in his bed, pulling the covers nearly over his head. Relieved to be back on his own ship, he tried to force himself to relax despite the unwelcome guest who had arrived on a transport a short time earlier. It was bad enough that Scorpius had invited himself onto the command carrier, but Crais suspected he knew what was in the numerous shipping crates that he had brought. The half-breed was trying to move in where he was most unwelcome...

This is still my ship, still my command, Scorpius. You are not going to take it away from me without a fight! he thought angrily. Then, realizing that dwelling on it was not helping him relax one bit, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly, willing his muscles to relax. Calling on some of his earliest training, he breathed deeply again and emptied his mind of all thoughts. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in...

An image intruded on his meditation, undoing all of his effort to that point: John Crichton, lying naked, face down and spread-eagle on his bed; his wrists and ankles adorned with soft black and red leather cuffs that, for the moment, were not connected to anything but easily could be. Crais' eyes snapped open and he shook himself, his breathing no longer calm and his body anything but relaxed. Not now! he thought, squashing the urge to indulge himself. Crichton was an enemy; not only had he killed Tauvo, but he was responsible for Crais' own humiliation in the Aurora Chair -- he was probably also responsible for Officer Sun's treasonous attack on him!

Feeling his heart pounding in his chest as he thought about the agony he had suffered in the Chair thanks to Aeryn, he took another deep breath and resumed his attempt to relax. He closed his eyes again, calmed his breathing and tried to relax his tense muscles.

The moment he actually began to relax, another image flashed through his mind: Crichton, backing away from him as he advanced, the blue eyes wide with something that wasn't quite fear. A heady combination of lust and anger washed through him, settling in his groin and bringing his cock up hard. Sleep no longer seemed to be an option. Completely alone, as he should be in his own quarters -- Scorpius hadn't had a chance to bug the room yet, and he had long ago disabled any monitoring devices that had been planted by First Command -- it would be safe to indulge in a harmless fantasy...

Closing his eyes, he summoned up the image again, groaning softly as arousal burned through him at the thought of trapping Crichton against the wall and wrapping his hands around his throat...

He stroked across his own chest with one hand, sliding the other down over his belly to his groin; sighing as he pinched one nipple to hardness and then moved on to the other one; he closed his other hand around his erection. In his mind's eye, he backed Crichton into the wall and kissed him roughly, closing his hands around Crichton's steely biceps and keeping him pressed against the wall when he pulled back for air. He looked Crichton up and down, could see the impressive erection straining between them... He wasn't quite sure when his hands moved from Crichton's arms to his throat, but suddenly he found himself squeezing, hard; his heart pounding in his ears as Crichton gasped for breath.

Crichton's knees began to buckle, and Crais closed the distance to pin him against the wall with his body, holding him upright. Crichton's erection hadn't wilted at all, and when Crais pressed against him he moaned, surprising Crais. That wasn't the reaction Crais had been suspecting, and he loosened his grip slightly in surprise -- and suddenly, instead of pressing against the wall he was forcing Crichton down in his bed, leaning in for another bruising kiss as the human writhed beneath him. When he pulled back this time he released Crichton's throat, sliding his hands down across Crichton's chest and stroking up and down his sides until Crichton was moaning and squirming beneath him, hungry and ready for him. Despite all of his anger, he knew killing Crichton wasn't what he really wanted -- and from the look in the blue eyes as Crichton stared up at him, the human knew it, too. He leaned in to kiss Crichton again, planning to pull back and slide into his conquest, wanting so intensely to ram into him and own him.

Crichton's arms came up to encircle him, crushing him against the human's leanly muscled form. A strong hand slid bruisingly up his back and into his hair -- which had somehow come out of the tightly wrapped ponytail -- and closed around a fistful of hair. When he gasped in surprise, Crichton took the opportunity to kiss him, plunging his tongue deep into Crais' mouth; using the hand tangled in his hair to keep them from pulling apart. Moments later, Crichton was rolling them over and pinning Crais to the bed; forcing him down into the covers and sliding a knee smoothly between his parting thighs.

When Crichton finally allowed Crais to breathe, he groaned and arched up into him, hands desperately trying to reach every inch of Crichton's body at once. He could feel that glorious erection pressed between them, throbbing and unbelievably hot, and he knew what he wanted Crichton to do with it...

Apparently, so did Crichton. The blue eyes fixed him with a smouldering stare and Crichton smiled, leaned close and whispered, "Get ready for the frelling of your life, Crais..." He pulled back far enough to help Crais lift up his legs, not that he needed any help or urging... Part of him thought that he should be resisting this; that he shouldn't appear so eager to let an inferior species get the upper hand. The rest of him squashed that protesting Peacekeeper part viciously, thinking that any species so magnificently formed could not be that inferior. And then all thought fled as he felt the head of Crichton's cock pressing into him...

There was pain, but it was a sweet, sweet pain as Crichton's magnificent cock slid into him; forcing a groan from him as it slid in to the hilt. Crichton twitched his hips, smiling at Crais' lustful cry when his cock moved deep within him. Panting, Crais met the burning gaze and whispered, "Please..." and Crichton smiled smugly. And then the being who had so recently been his conquest; who had now become his conqueror, pulled nearly all the way out, and rammed back into him.

At his helpless moan of pleasure Crichton repeated the motion, again and again; that wonderful, hot thickness splitting him open; battering his insides, stretching and filling him so completely that he couldn't do anything more than lie there and enjoy it. Crichton made a sound deep in his throat -- wild, feral; a cross between a growl and a purr -- and straightened, the shift in position sending a thrill through Crais as he realized what Crichton was doing. If that magnificent cock was overwhelming now...

Crichton grasped his hips with bruising fingers, pulled him up into his lap the way Crais had taken him the first time, and thrust hard. Arching back, Crais cried out again, the change of pressure against his prostate sending shudders of pleasure through him. Helpless as Crichton settled into a punishing rhythm, he moaned and whimpered as the sensations overwhelmed him -- he knew it wouldn't be long but the pleasure was nearly more than he could bear. He could see the effect of his eagerness on Crichton, too; the human's skin slick with sweat and his eyes dilated in pleasure. His warm, musky scent tickled Crais' nostrils, heightening his arousal more than any aphrodisiac ever could.

And suddenly, Crais was screaming his release as Crichton shoved in as deep as he could reach and groaned, that magnificent cock spasming and shooting hot cum deep within him...

...Crais groaned and shuddered as the pleasure faded, opening his eyes to the darkness of his quarters and the loneliness of his bed. He shifted in the bed and slid his fingers from his ass, trying to ignore the ache in that wrist; tucked his now-tender cock back into his underwear, and decided cleaning up could wait until morning. The fantasy had been intense, but it was only that; a fantasy. It would never happen in reality, and he knew he had to accept that fact, as much as his subconscious obviously did not want to. He rolled onto his side and pulled the covers up again, closed his eyes, and quickly fell asleep...


Most of Moya's crew sat around the table, eating lunch and keeping an uneasy quiet. Stark sat between Crichton and Aeryn, glancing over at Crichton occasionally as he ate. Aeryn and D'Argo both noticed how uncharacteristically subdued Crichton was, but Aeryn remained quiet herself -- she had overheard enough to suspect, correctly or not, what the cause of his unusually taciturn behaviour was. D'Argo, on the other hand, neither suspected, nor cared, growing tired of Crichton's attitude since his escape from the Gammak base.

"Crichton, what is wrong with you?" he asked, his tone slightly irritated, but mainly concerned. "You have said nothing all meal."

"'M'fine, D'Argo," Crichton answered when he had managed to swallow at least part of his mouthful. "Didn't your mother ever teach you it's rude to talk with your mouth full?"

"No, she did not," D'Argo answered, before he realized Crichton didn't expect an answer.

Aeryn sighed and cut in, "Pilot says the search teams have expanded their perimeter. They will be coming closer to us, soon. We either need to hide in the asteroid belt, or we will be captured. Stark, have you made any decision?"

If anything, Crichton grew even quieter, feeling Stark's attention turn to him again before the alien answered. "I can't stay -- I'm sorry to run out on you like this, but I just can't take the risk of being captured by them again. After two cycles, I'm free -- I can't..."

"It's okay, Stark, honest," Crichton said, looking up at him. "You're not running out on us -- I know why you can't take that risk."

And that was the cause of the uneasy atmosphere, Aeryn reflected. Crichton and Stark had experienced things that they didn't seem willing to share with the others, and when Stark left, they had no buffer to help deal with Crichton's unpredictable moods. She knew enough to know why Crichton was so on edge, but not enough to know what would set him off -- and he had already caught her totally off-guard once. One of these times she might not be so in control of her own reactions and break his neck before she realized it was him...

"Well then," D'Argo said, not catching the flash of pain in Crichton's eyes, "we should finish this meal and prepare -- once Stark leaves, we will have to do our best to hide from the Peacekeepers."

"Just tell me what to do and I'll do it," Crichton responded quietly. "If you don't mind, I'll be helping Stark load the transport pod." He gently patted Stark's shoulder, then stood. "You coming?"

"I'll be there in a minute, John," Stark said softly. He could hear Crichton's footsteps heading away, then turned back to the others. "I really am sorry to run -- I just--"

"There is no reason to apologize, Stark," Zhaan said, speaking for the first time during the meal. "There is no shame in wanting to stay away from those who hurt you so badly."

"I just wish I'd been able to help more with John," Stark said softly, looking back down the corridor after him.

"He will get over it," D'Argo said, the irritation now clear in his tone. "He will have to, if we are to get through this."

"D'Argo, not everyone reacts to imprisonment and torture in the same manner. We cannot expect John to act the same way you would," Zhaan said. "We must have patience."

"We do not have time for patience," D'Argo muttered, returning to his meal.

Aeryn heaved a heavy sigh and said, "Look, you're both right. We don't have time for patience, but Crichton needs it. He's been hurt, very badly -- and not just the physical pain you had to endure when you were tortured, D'Argo. I saw that device Scorpius used on him. I'd heard things about Scorpius -- the kind of things you want to make yourself forget you ever heard because if you don't you'll never sleep well again..." She forcibly repressed a shudder, remembering what she had overheard Crichton discussing with Stark. "He will need time to recover -- we need to stop pushing him. I know, when it comes down to it, he will be there whenever we need him. We just need to stop pushing..."

Zhaan nodded and said, "I agree. I believe John will recover given time -- and we should prepare to move deeper into the asteroid field, so that he can have the time he needs."

"Very well," D'Argo said reluctantly. Then he activated his comm and asked, "Pilot, is the transport pod ready to go yet?"

"It will be shortly," Pilot answered, checking the instrument panels and looking into the docking bay. "Commander Crichton and Stark are saying their goodbyes."


"Stark, stop apologizing -- I'm not an idiot, I know you've gotta go. We can't afford to have all of us sitting in one place for them to grab up just like a handful of jacks..." Crichton said, settling a small satchel of food in the cabin of the pod.

"I'd ask you to explain, but it would probably take too long," the alien murmured, embracing Crichton. "Your shipmates are getting nervous enough without this dragging on..."

Crichton swallowed and ducked his gaze for a moment, trying to figure out how to ask his next question. Just spit it out, John-boy... "Um...are the dreams part of why you're leaving?" At Stark's confused look, he elaborated, "Not the nightmares of Scorpy -- I know we both have 'em. I mean the --uh-- the good ones, with Crais..."

Stark looked at him, fixing him with the one visible eye and studying him closely. Crichton thought for a moment he saw a flare of light from under Stark's mask, and then once again he felt the flood of love and caring that Stark had projected that day in the cell when he had been so despairing. "Don't worry about that, John," Stark whispered when he could see his friend had relaxed, "I'm not jealous, if that's what you're asking. I care about you, and I want you to be happy. Those dreams make you happy -- at least while you're having them -- so that makes them all right. Okay?"

Crichton nodded, not trusting his voice all of a sudden, and stepped forward to hug Stark again. "I'll miss you," he whispered, pulling back enough so they could kiss.

When he stepped back again, Stark was smiling. "Don't worry, John, we'll meet again."

"Yeah..." Then he turned and walked out of the pod and headed out of the docking bay, not turning back as he heard the pod door shut and the engines start up. "Okay, Pilot, he's getting ready," he said over the comm; then as the pod powered up and shot out of Moya's cargo bay, he sat down at a table and rested his head on his folded arms. "'Bye, Stark..."


With a growing feeling of frustration, Crais listened as Lieutenant Braca provided excuses for their failure to locate Moya and the gunship offspring while he reviewed the reports. When he had had enough, he looked up at Braca and said, "Then we enter the field and change our angle of projection."

"If we do that, we sacrifice maneuverability," Braca protested.

Crais was about to ream him out for questioning his orders when the door slid open and Scorpius entered the room. Crais' eyes narrowed and he said, "I left orders not to be disturbed."

"Of course, Captain," Scorpius purred, savouring the nervousness that underlay Crais' annoyance, "but, as you labour to recapture the Leviathan, I thought I might offer a course of action it seems you have not considered yet." He had walked over to the desk where Crais sat, and now leaned in close to him, letting the wave of discomfort wash over him. "Do you think a mother would abandon her child?" he purred.

Crais stepped firmly on the urge to shudder, and glowered at Scorpius, relieved when he backed off. The half-breed continued, however, "If I was in command, Captain, I would concentrate on the Leviathan's newborn." The hair on the back of Crais' neck stood up as Scorpius walked around behind him to the other side of his chair, continuing, "Bombard the area with multi-frequency signals. Discordant stimuli. See if I couldn't make the offpring reveal itself in panic. And, its mother along with it, hmmn?"

Crais could feel Scorpius looking expectantly at him, but he continued to ignore him, instead focusing on Braca. "My orders stand. Change our position." Braca nodded sharply, accepting the order, and then walked briskly out of the room, leaving Crais alone with Scorpius. Continuing to stare straight ahead, Crais asked, "What do you want, Scorpius?"

"I came to see how you feel, Captain," Scorpius said quietly, walking around to the front of Crais' desk and studying him closely, "After your unpleasant experience at the hands of Officer Sun, I've been concerned..."

"You, concerned?" Crais scoffed, glowering up at Scorpius as the half-breed leaned on the edge of his desk. "Somehow I doubt that. Now, get out of my office -- and do not try to undermine my command again!"

The calm expression faded and Scorpius leaned close, then hissed, "It takes little effort to undermine your command, Captain. Do not presume to order me around -- it is only because I am waiting to see how this hunt turns out that I have held off on reporting everything that has transpired to First Command..." When it looked as if Crais might argue further, he reached out and grabbed the Sebacean by the throat and leaned very close. "I had the Aurora Chair set up in the rooms given to me on your ship, Crais. I still have things I would like to ask you -- we can go there now if you'd like."

"How dare you!" Crais wheezed, trying to pry Scorpius' powerful grip loose. He could see the half-breed becoming more excited as he struggled, and realized with disgust that he was trapped. Even if he refused, at this point, Scorpius would find some way to get him back into that damnable Chair... "Release me, Scorpius!" he ordered, relieved when Scorpius finally let go.

"Come with me, willingly, and I will save you the humiliation of having you dragged out of here by my guards," Scorpius offered, looking smugly down at him.

Crais glowered up at him, then slowly stood and said, "Let's get this over with, then." He could tell that Scorpius was disappointed he didn't fight -- the half-breed had obviously been looking forward to it. I'm not about to give you any satisfaction, he thought viciously as Scorpius led the way out of the office. He followed Scorpius out, determined not to let him spend any time unsupervised in his quarters; although once they were in the corridor he walked alongside the scientist, determined to show him they were at least equals...

When they arrived at Scorpius' room, he couldn't avoid the shiver of unease that slid down his spine. He knew what was coming, and that there truly was no way to avoid it -- and Scorpius was all too aware of that fact, smiling smugly at him as he opened the door and ushered him into the large room.

Somehow, Scorpius had obtained what had been a storage area, and in the small amount of time he had been aboard had already set up the Aurora Chair and all of its controls. In one corner of the large room, what looked like personal quarters had been set up. Crais' eyes swept the room, uneasily noting the restraints on the bed: Scorpius appeared to be anticipating the expedient return of Crichton... Bastard...

And suddenly, Scorpius was there, right behind him, purring in his ear, "What are you thinking about, Captain -- are you thinking about Crichton?"

Relieved that Scorpius couldn't see his expression, Crais growled, "It's no business of yours, Scorpius," and took a step forward to put more distance between them.

Scorpius smiled, having felt Crais' reaction to the mention of Crichton, and closed the distance again. "You want him, don't you, Crais," he purred in the Sebacean's ear. Yes, there was that flood of desire again; intense, exploitable... "You want him so badly you're aching for him...And you've seen that magnificent cock of his -- you want him to pin you down and frell you, don't you?" To keep Crais from edging away again, he grabbed the powerful shoulders and held him immobile; then whispered, "If you'd like to feel something that big, I'm sure I can find something to keep you happy until you have him captive again..."

"How dare you!" Crais roared, turning on Scorpius and lashing out viciously with a hand aimed for the half-breed's throat; realizing even as he did so that he had made a mistake letting his temper get the best of him.

With lightning fast reflexes, Scorpius dodged the strike and reached out, wrapping his hand around Crais' ponytail and using it to pull him off balance. With frightening ease, he forced Crais to his knees and held him there with the painful grip. "Must I pick you up and put you in the Chair?" he asked, his voice still a quiet purr -- and all the more disquieting for that fact. Abruptly, he released Crais; sneering down on him, he ordered, "Stand up, Captain."

Wordlessly, glaring daggers at Scorpius, Crais stood and adjusted his ponytail, determined not to wince at the lingering pain. Retaining as much dignity as possible, he walked to the Aurora Chair and seated himself, closing his eyes as Scorpius fastened the restraints.

"Crichton is a most intriguing creature, isn't he, Captain?" Scorpius asked as he secured the headset. "Surprisingly strong-willed for someone so undisciplined..."

Crais felt the leather-clad fingers stroke the back of his head and down his neck as the half-breed discussed Crichton, and realized with discomfort this was the direction Scorpius' questioning would be taking. "Get your hands off me, Scorpius..." he warned, knowing he was powerless to stop it anyway.

Instead of stepping away, Scorpius walked around the Chair to face Crais, smiling as the hazel eyes opened. He trailed a teasing stroke along Crais' jawline and then down his throat. "Obsession is an interesting thing, Captain..." he whispered, "It makes you focus so strongly on one thing that everything else suffers: your mission, your duties...your loyalties. You've allowed Crichton to become your entire universe, Captain -- how do you justify that kind of single-mindedness when it affects your duties as a Peacekeeper?"

"I am not obsessed with him," Crais denied, glaring up at Scorpius. "That single-mindedness is focus, not obsession."

"Of course it is," Scorpius said with a smirk, "That's why you have taken to murdering your officers and ignoring orders from First Command. I should have realized..."

"Perhaps you should be cautious yourself, Scorpius; raping a prisoner is against the rules -- especially an alien," Crais mused. "But I'm sure you're not about to put that in the report you give First Command..."

"The report is about you, Captain, not me..." Scorpius purred, cupping his chin and leaning so close Crais could feel the thin lips move as he talked, "and for complete accuracy, I should ask you some more questions about the object of your...focus."

"Then just get it over with," Crais growled, trying to pull away from Scorpius.

The half-breed smiled and allowed him to back away, savoured the emotions raging through the Sebacean -- it was definitely time to start...

He stepped off the Chair's platform and walked over to the controls, flicked switches and turned the power up. Crais struggled to restrain the scream that clawed its way up from deep inside, the pain slicing straight into his mind despite his attempts to resist. He dug his hands into the arms of the Chair and fought to maintain control; knew he was losing when he heard a whimper and realized it had come from him.

"Stop fighting it, Captain," Scorpius said, "You already know how much pain that can cause..." He walked back over to the platform and hopped up onto it, then leaned close to Crais and whispered, "All I want to know is what you know about Crichton's strengths and weaknesses, Captain. It's not as if I'm asking for any state secrets -- I just want to know the best way to bring down our common foe..."

"You've already seen into his mind, Scorpius -- you don't need anything from me!" Crais ground out, gaining a little more control as Scorpius' request sent a chill through him. He's trying to get me to seal my fate-- Crais thought before another wave of pain sliced through his head...

"You truly have no reason to protect him, Captain -- he fled the base and that traitorous Tech helped him use you as part of the distraction -- One of your own pilots left you for dead in the Chair... Now, tell me about him -- I will decide what I do and do not need to know..."

Crais struggled in the chair again, feeling his willpower fading; the pain becoming too intense to fight against. "No..." he groaned as images began to flash across the screen: His first meeting with Crichton, circling around the human like, he realized now, some wild predator; their battle at Maldis' lair; Crichton backed against the door of his quarters, trembling as he pressed against him...

"Yes!" Scorpius hissed, "Tell me, Captain. Show me everything you know about him -- how it felt to be inside him, to have him submit to you..."

Crais squeezed his eyes shut, swallowing back bile as he realized Crichton had been right; Scorpius was using them both to fulfill his twisted desires. He couldn't fight the Chair anymore, and when Scorpius mentioned Crichton submitting to him, he gasped. Underneath the pain, barely perceptible, he felt a shiver of arousal as the memory of Crichton's eagerness filled his mind. He tried to regain control, oblivious now to the images flashing across the screen and Scorpius' vicarious enjoyment of them...


Frustrated by the lack of search results, Crais strode from the bridge, heading for his quarters. He had felt the furtive glances of some of the more opportunistic members of his crew; those he knew were well aware of the power struggle going on right under their noses and prepared to throw their loyalties in with whoever won. He shuddered, knowing all too well that he had already lost to Scorpius -- there was only one way he could win, and even if he accomplished that objective he still had to regain control of himself before he could regain control of his command...

Glad when he arrived at his quarters, Crais stepped into the room -- and stopped short when the sight of Scorpius lounging in one of his chairs filtered through the exhaustion. "What are you doing here?" he asked, too annoyed to think about what the scientist may have done while he was waiting.

Scorpius continued to look around and answered, "Admiring your quarters, Captain. Quite opulent even by captains' standards." He turned to look at Crais, savouring the Sebacean's defiance for the moment. "I've never understood the need of some warriors to," he paused briefly, motioning at the large skull hanging on the wall behind the chair, "memorialize their conquests."

Crais began walking forward again, anger still overwhelming any other reaction. "Your branch of the service gives you special privileges, Scorpius; which does not include disrespect of rank. I want you off my ship!"

"Of course you do," Scorpius said calmly. He slowly stood and began walking forward, continuing, "Candidly, Captain, you have continually failed in all your duties. Your vector for success has grown quite small." He walked down the steps to the lower section of the room, approaching Crais; and gently threatened, "Stray outside it and I fear this ship soon may need someone else to command her."

As Scorpius passed him, Crais grimaced with disgust. The door slid closed, and only then did Crais realize Scorpius had not left, instead closing and locking his quarters to any who might interrupt. Anger began to give way to unease.

"Get out, Scorpius," he commanded, "You are not welcome here."

"Ah, but Captain," he purred, approaching Crais again, "you have been in this position before -- and I know you will do whatever you need to do to attain your desired objective..."

Crais swallowed hard as Scorpius' last words came from right behind him; the scientist so close that he could feel the heat pouring off his body. Continuing to stare straight ahead, he snarled, "Get out of my quarters, Scorpius; I will not warn you again."

One leather-clad hand fastened on his shoulder, the other closing around his throat before he could even react. He squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced with revulsion as Scorpius pressed his lean body close, fighting down the panic as the pressure on the blood vessels in his neck began to make him lightheaded.

"No, Captain, you will not warn me again..." Scorpius murmured threateningly, and Crais gasped in surprise and a tiny shock of pain as something sharp jabbed into the throbbing artery in his neck. Scorpius chuckled softly and gave his neck a little caress, then abruptly released him.

"What the frell was that?!" Crais demanded, spinning and looking at Scorpius accusingly. Already, he could feel a strange heat spreading up the side of his face and across, back down the other side and then down into his body; a delicious heat that spread throughout his body in a matter of moments. "What have you done to me?"

Scorpius stood back and watched, smiling, as the compound worked its way through Crais' system. Despite the Sebacean's alarm, he could see the gradual relaxation as it worked its powerful effect. Perfect... "You see, Captain, there are many fascinating things on the myriad planets the Peacekeepers control. You are interested in these worlds merely as far as their military strengths and weaknesses are concerned; whereas I, as a scientist, find so much more to explore. New ways of bringing pain, new devices with which to torture -- new chemicals and concoctions with which to obtain the desired reaction..."

"You drugged me!" Crais accused, horrified by the sensations beginning to overwhelm him, the sweet heat giving way to an ache that begged to be eased. Backing away from Scorpius, he growled, "You've outdone yourself, Scorpius -- this behaviour is inexcusable!"

Scorpius walked forward, following Crais' retreat, his tongue darting out to moisten his thin lips. "Perhaps you would like to report me to First Command, Captain -- right after the investigation of your relationship with Crichton..."

Crichton... Crais thought, a delicious shudder running through his body as memories flooded his mind. He shook his head, forcing his mind back to the matter at hand -- Scorpius had managed to catch up with him and the leather-clad fingers were deftly unbuttoning his uniform tunic's collar. He batted them away, snarling, "Get away from me!"

Scorpius chuckled softly and grabbed Crais' wrist hard, then leaned in closer and whispered, "Yes, Captain, I did drug you. You are a Sebacean, and I didn't think it was fair for our session tonight to be completely one-sided..."

Desperation lent Crais enough strength to break Scorpius' grasp; he bolted, heading up the stairs intending to grab his pulse rifle and deal with his unwanted guest. Scorpius' reactions, however, were faster -- the half-breed caught him, shoving him down on his bed; pinning him down and forcing a knee between legs that spread far too easily.

Crais moaned, hunger flaring sharply and bringing with it horror and self-loathing as he realized who he was reacting to, and that he had lost all control over his body. This was what it was like to be like Crichton, he realized, unable to control what his body responded to; reacting to something he loathed so much he could taste it. For a moment fear threatened to overwhelm him, and he could see Scorpius shiver in pleasure as he drank it in...

Scorpius sighed as Crais arched beneath him, feeling the wanton hunger battling the fear within his conquest. It was a perfect mix; so stimulating... He returned his attention to the uniform tunic, Crais' reactions to his every touch sending another thrill through him. The Sebacean was helpless against him, so desperate to be frelled, so aroused that he would do anything for release -- and so terrified because of that lack of control. "I should have done this to you long ago, Crais..." Scorpius purred, leaning close and biting Crais' lower lip. When the Sebacean gasped, he flicked his tongue inside the warm mouth, tasting and probing. Crais' reaction, a ragged groan and surge of arousal, urged Scorpius to plunge his tongue deeper in a savage approximation of a kiss.

Crais writhed beneath Scorpius, grinding his aching cock against the hot thigh pressed between his legs. Images of Crichton flashed through his mind again; the human groaning and surging up into him as he shoved deep; blue eyes wide with surprise as he frelled Crichton mercilessly; that perfect body arching in pleasure as orgasm took him... He cried out as a leather-clad hand wrapped around his erection, the shock of it bringing him back to the present again. Where are my clothes?! he thought, fear overwhelming him again as he realized he had been stripped of his uniform.

Scorpius chuckled and whispered, "Thinking about Crichton again, Captain?" When even the mere mention of the human made Crais' cock twitch, Scorpius knew he was ready. He rolled off his captive and made himself comfortable beside him, leaning close to bite one of Crais' erect nipples, savouring the shock of pain as Crais whimpered. The Sebacean's legs were spread wide, his erection rising from its bed of crisp black curls, wet with precum and throbbing with every beat of his heart. Scorpius restrained a groan as the sight of his helpless captive sent lust thundering through his body...

He stripped off his gloves and caught the next bead of precum on a fingertip, spread it to form the barest amount of lubrication, then slid his hand between Crais' thighs, reaching for his anus. When he touched the puckered opening, Crais groaned and lifted his hips slightly, wordlessly begging for penetration.

"Don't worry, Captain, you'll get exactly what you want..." he purred, forcing his finger into the tight opening and sighing as Crais' body opened to accept his invasion. He could feel, buried deep beneath the lust, Crais' horror and impotent fury struggling for release; savoured it as he thrust deep.

Crais moaned, the pain of Scorpius' savage penetration only serving to spark another rush of arousal, his body responding helplessly despite the part of him that screamed in horror and disgust. He wanted desperately to get his body back under control, but whatever compound Scorpius had given him had completely shattered that control. He even knew that Scorpius was reveling in his fear and loathing, fulfilling his own twisted desires by reading the swirling emotions -- knew he was providing exactly what Scorpius wanted. And he couldn't make himself stop...

Scorpius jabbed deep again, and Crais realized he was on his stomach now; couldn't remember how he'd gotten there. His cock was achingly hard, his balls throbbing as if they were going to explode. He was impaled on something that reached much deeper than the half-breed's fingers, and he couldn't remember how it had gotten inside him, either. All he knew -- all his world existed of -- was the pleasure that came with every thrust, every savage jab deep into his body; and somewhere the voice, all but drowned out, now, screaming at him to fight...

There was a sudden, intense electric jolt that had nothing at all to do with the stimulation of any sensitive internal gland. He cried out, his limbs jerking with the sensation that seared through him; his body desperate to feel it again even though the last tingle hadn't yet faded. Scorpius laughed aloud, an ugly, contemptuous, smug laugh, and then the electric pleasure scorched his nerves again. He realized, suddenly, that it had something to do with the device inside him -- whatever Scorpius was frelling him with was electrified in some way...

Scorpius groaned as Crais writhed before him, wishing fiercely that he could penetrate the Sebacean himself and cursing the one weakness of his mixed-heritage physiology. He thumbed the control of his device onto a setting that sent a constant stream of low voltage electricity through the rod deep within Crais' body. His helpless prisoner gasped in response and shivered as the pleasure turned up a notch. Then, Crais moaned and began to move, pressing back in an attempt to drive the device deeper; to get actively frelled by it instead of merely relying on its normal level of stimulus. Yes, Captain, I will give you what you want, Scorpius thought, sensing the burning hunger within his captive; the desperation, the humiliation...

As Scorpius grasped the handle of the rod and began to thrust it into him, Crais groaned and pressed back into the rough strokes. Pleasure burned through him as the constant level of stimulus buzzed and tingled through him, sending fire along every nerve of his body. On a particularly savage thrust, when one of the contacts was in exactly the right place, Scorpius flicked the control. A sharp pulse went through Crais, quickly followed by another and another; sending him tumbling over the edge, orgasm tearing violently through him, ripping a scream from his throat as he dissolved in the pleasure/pain. He was too far gone to feel Scorpius dig sharp nails into his shoulder and press his trembling body close, shuddering and sighing as he soaked up the pleasure...


Crais sat in his quarters, glowering sullenly at his bed, entertaining thoughts of incinerating the entire thing. His head pounded terribly and his body ached, an unpleasant reminder of his recent ordeal. He shuddered as memories of Scorpius' touch and his inability to control his reaction intruded -- nothing had ever made him feel more helpless, more out of control -- nothing had ever been more humiliating. He felt as if everyone knew what had happened -- that stares and whispers behind his back followed him as he walked through his ship.

His ship -- Hah! he thought bitterly, My ship... Not for much longer if Scorpius has his way--

The door chime rang and he looked up, then sighed and said, "Come." Two junior officers carrying his lunch entered his quarters and brought the tray to him.

"Sir, Scorpius said that you would be eating lunch in your quarters today," one of them explained as he glared up at them.

"Yes, yes," he answered with annoyance, triggering the control that made his table rise out of the floor. "Put the tray here, and you may go."

"We were told to wait until you are finished, Sir," the other one explained, his discomfort obvious as he realized they had just been placed squarely in the middle of the power struggle on the ship.

Crais sighed as they put the tray and utensils down, then said, "Very well -- stand over there and do not disturb me." He sat down carefully, trying his hardest to keep from showing any discomfort, and began to pick through his food.

Not three minutes later, Scorpius strode into his quarters unannounced, walked up to him, and tossed a data chip into the bowl in front of him. "My report to High Command," the half-breed said, looking down at Crais.

Disgusted, Crais fished the data chip out of the bowl and asked, "Shall I bother reading it?" He looked up at Scorpius as he stopped next to the table, imagining how Scorpius would look if he rammed the chip down his throat and choked him with it.

Scorpius looked down and smiled, then calmly said, "To what end? You'll hear it all multiple times at your inquest." Crais signaled to the two officers, who wordlessly turned and walked out. Scorpius let them go, preferring to be alone with Crais anyway, feeling the conflict raging even now within the Sebacean. He felt such power over the Sebacean now, the captain furious at what had been done; horrified at what he had allowed to be done -- he would not flee now that his watchers were dismissed... "You disobeyed direct orders, murdered a fellow officer with premeditation; sacrificed eighteen of your elite crew," he walked around the table, "in a pathetic quest for personal vengeance." Crais returned his attention to his lunch, beginning to eat despite the nausea and the fact that all food tasted like hull scrapings at the moment. Scorpius continued, "It's all in there."

He activated the control, retracting the table into the floor, Crais' annoyed expression almost amusing him. When the table vanished into the floor, he kicked the trays aside, smiling as Crais swallowed, pleased when unease momentarily overtook the anger. He stopped right in front of Crais and looked down at him as the Sebacean looked up at him with hatred burning in his gaze. "You are unfit for duty by any measure. I personally intend to see you stripped of rank and office."

Fury thundering in his veins, Crais snarled, "So you can take command of my carrier?"

Scorpius leaned close, his face only inches away from the Sebacean's, and purred, "I already have."

Something snapped within Crais, blind fury overwhelming any sense. He grabbed Scorpius by the throat and shoved, putting all of his strength into it as he propelled them across the room. "GET OFF MY SHIP!" he yelled, slamming Scorpius hard into the wall.

Every humiliation he had suffered at Scorpius' hands; every insult, every threat, the horror of the Aurora Chair and of the rape -- Crais poured all of it into his anger, giving him strength enough to continue to overpower Scorpius. He hauled the scientist away from the wall and shoved him into another wall, pulled him back and slammed him hard back into the wall again. Not finished there, he hauled Scorpius off that wall and across the room into another one, and again into another; each time using the distance to build up momentum to make the impact hard enough to injure most beings. Pure rage drove him, all conscious thought gone, leaving behind only the most primitive urge to destroy his enemy...

Crais never saw Scorpius' gesture over one of the controls as he snarled and hauled the half-breed over to slam him into another wall. Suddenly the scientist reached up to grasp Crais' wrists and pull his hands away from his throat, holding them up with ease as Crais strained against him. Scorpius roared and shoved him back hard, pleased as Crais fell backwards into the tub that had emerged from the floor, landing hard enough to stun him.

Scorpius strode to him and planted his foot firmly across Crais' throat, not quite hard enough to crush it, and in an unholy growl snarled, "Why must you force me to display my physical superiority to your kind as well?" Crais saw him look aside, almost as if he had been disturbed by his lack of control, and the next time Scorpius spoke it was in his calm, cultured tone. "If you want to fight anyone, attack your executioner," he suggested, then stepped back from Crais and walked out.

Crais choked, trying to clear his throat; coughed again and finally breathed freely. Slowly, painfully, he hauled himself to his feet and limped back to sit heavily on his bed. He opened his collar and removed his jacket, then rubbed gingerly at his throat, relieved to find that there seemed to be no injury, just soreness. Scorpius had known exactly the right pressure to use -- just as he had known about the drug, about Crichton, about everything...

It was more than obvious that Scorpius intended to ruin him completely, and unfortunately, Crais was aware he had given the half-breed enough evidence to do just that. He had to find something to save himself -- had to either find something that would make him too valuable to First Command to remove, or get Scorpius out of the way. There was only one thing he could think of that might accomplish either, and even that might not be enough at this point: the Leviathan gunship...

Somehow he had to get his hands on it, before Scorpius finished him off. He was not accustomed to being the target of Peacekeeper determination, and it did not sit well with him. Accustomed to being the one in power, the loss of that position burned; sparked fury deep in his heart. He hated Scorpius with every part of his being, far more than he had ever wanted to hurt Crichton; even more than he had wanted to capture the fugitives. Scorpius had humiliated him personally, and that he just could not allow. The problem was that he just could not think of any way to defeat him...


Braca entered Crais' quarters to find him sitting at his desk unmoving. The lieutenant reported, "ESAS reports a confirmed location of one of the escaped Leviathan transport pods," coming to a stop before his desk. "It's landed on one of the deep field asteroids."

When Crais continued to stare straight ahead, not even acknowledging his entrance, Braca said, "Sir." When there was still no response, he asked, "Captain?" He stepped closer and softly said, "Scorpius has ordered several Marauder teams into the asteroid field..." When Crais leaned forward to rest his head in his hands on the desk, he asked, "Is it true what they say? That Scorpius can sense our fears and our weaknesses?"

Crais cringed inwardly, knowing just how true it was, and then Braca raised his voice again and said, "I await your orders, Sir!" and moved back to stand in front of him again.

Crais looked up, meeting his Lieutenant's gaze, and shakily said, "My orders? Ah -- do as he says..." Recognizing a dismissal when he heard one, Braca turned and left the room, leaving Crais alone with his thoughts. Well aware that he had lost control of the situation, Crais dejectedly rested on the desk, mentally reviewing his very limited options. There's only one thing left -- I've got to get to that gunship...


Reunited on Moya after their experience on the planet, Crichton, Zhaan and D'Argo filled the others in on what had happened, and the present they had left behind for the Peacekeepers. In his opinion, there was no one more deserving of a ravenous calcivore than Scorpius...

With the increased Peacekeeper presence in the asteroid field, they had gone back to using the absolute minimum power, which meant, of course, that they were all freezing again. Fortunately, the star charts they had obtained from Br'Nee were exactly what they needed to find their way through the asteroids -- they just needed to be very careful as they did so...

He huddled deeper into the blanket and glanced back at Zhaan and D'Argo, knowing that earlier they had been discussing his supposedly uncharacteristic attitude down on the planet. Okay, so he had been a little trigger-happy -- that kind of thing happened when someone was trying to eat your friends... There was nothing wrong with the way he had been acting -- after all, they were all usually telling him he talked too much -- he sighed, frustrated. You just can't win...

At least now, as he sat with Aeryn and discussed her visit with the baby Leviathan, Zhaan & D'Argo were talking about the planet itself; Zhaan mourning the loss of the great resource it could be. Surprisingly, D'Argo knew exactly what to say to improve her mood. Crichton was relieved that her time spent as a specimen in a jar didn't seem to have affected her too badly. He was still trying to wrap his mind around her being a plant -- although it certainly did explain a lot.

Then there was Chiana, wrapped tight in a blanket with Rygel in her arms. Okay, I get the need to share body warmth, but...how does she stand the smell? Then he saw Rygel try to cop a feel and feign a waking stretch as Chiana scolded him. Uh...yeah.

He shook his head and leaned closer to Aeryn, glad that she was genuinely happy after spending time with the baby Leviathan. When she smiled it made her whole face light up, and he decided she should smile more often. And he had to get up and move around and work some blood back into his hands and feet before they got frostbit...

Pilot's voice interrupted his thoughts, "Officer Sun?"

Aeryn looked up and said, "Yes, Pilot?"

"Moya has asked me to relay to you how well she and her offspring are communicating now, all thanks to you."

Crichton smiled and turned back to look at Aeryn. She had her back to him, so he couldn't see, but he wondered if she were blushing. Just the slightest bit, of course... And then she answered, "Oh, Pilot, I did what I had to do for the good of the ship."

"Well," Pilot answered, and Crichton was almost certain he could hear a smile in the alien's tone, "the ship has notified me that the offspring now needs a name, And, she would be extremely honoured if you, Aeryn Sun, were the one to choose his name."

Wow... he thought, This is big. Not entirely sure why, but it is...

Aeryn stared at Pilot's hologram, amazed by the request. Eventually, she nodded, then very formally said, "Pilot, please tell Moya that I would be honoured to -- I will have to think, though. I want to make sure he has a good name..."

"She understands, Officer Sun."


Okay, we're gonna be safe from Crais, Scorpy and their buddies, but I'm gonna freeze to death while we're doin' it! Crichton thought, pulling the blankets completely over his head and shivering. Then he forced himself to lie still for a moment. Crais, he thought again, testing a theory. Okay, that was odd, he thought, realizing that he hadn't imagined the rise in temperature that even a simple thought of the Sebacean caused. Shit, Scorpy, what the hell did you do to me with that frelling -- that fucking Chair?! I even think of the guy and I'm getting all hot and bothered!

The voice in the back of his head chuckled and reminded him that it sure beat freezing to death.

He shrugged and smiled wryly. Damn -- c'mon, John-boy, the guy tried to kill you! You don't want him...touching you. The images flashed before his mind's eye, memories of that heavy-handed caress, of that warm body pinning him against the wall, of Crais' fingers and then Crais' cock -- suddenly he was rock-hard and much, much warmer. Oh, yeah, that's convincing. Don't want him at all, do I... he thought sarcastically. Damn! He grasped his cock and let the images come, his mind replaying their brutal joining the last time they had been together. Crais had been so wild, so forceful -- no gentle joining, no sweet caresses; just hot animal sex, both of them so aroused that they couldn't even talk...

A part of him wanted that again so badly he could taste it -- his body ached to have Crais' cock slamming into him, pounding his prostate mercilessly and not stopping until they were both screaming in orgasm -- wanted it so badly it almost hurt... He pumped his cock harder, focusing his memories on the look on Crais' face as the Sebacean pinned him down and thrust into him; how excited he was, that feral snarl on his face that looked -- that looked just like the one when Crais had been chasing him through Maldis' lair...

He arched in orgasm, crying out before he could stop himself; pumping his cock until the last spasm faded and then settling limply under the covers, now at least warm enough to relax and sleep comfortably for a while. As sleep was stealing up on him, he wondered exactly when Crais' anger had transformed into lust -- if Maldis hadn't been hounding both of them for their pain and hatred, would Crais have fucked him then? And just what the hell was going to happen the next time the two of them met...


Crais groaned and stretched out, rolling over to bury his face in his pillow to block out the painful light. His head pounded, his body ached, and his stomach churned violently as he felt the weight next to him shift and a hand slide down his back to rest proprietarily on his ass. Memories flooded back and it took every ounce of his strength to ride out the next wave of nausea.

The weight next to him shifted again, the hand squeezing his asscheek, and then, mercifully, it was gone as his tormentor stood and walked away from the bed. He groaned quietly into his pillow, wishing desperately that his head would stop pounding long enough for him to kill one of the two occupants of his quarters -- at the moment, it really didn't matter which one. And then the fact that his tormentor was speaking filtered through the red haze in his mind. What was that? A transport?

"Yes, keep an eye on it and keep me apprised of the situation," Scorpius was saying when he finally managed to discern actual words out of the roar of sound assaulting him. The half-breed shut down the comm channel then turned to look at Crais. "There is a Leviathan transport pod heading for the ship. The only occupant appears to be the Hynerian..."

Crais groaned and steeled himself for the discomfort he knew would accompany his next act, then rolled to the edge of the bed and sat up. Determined not to show any weakness now that the drug no longer had its hold on him, he got to his feet and walked to his bathroom. "I'll be ready shortly," he said, shutting the door firmly behind him.

The sound of the door closing made his head throb again, and when he looked at his reflection in the mirror, the bloodshot eyes and dark circles beneath them alarmed him. He winced and reached up, undoing his tight ponytail and trying to untangle the hair that had escaped its hold the night before. He picked up his brush and tentatively dragged it through his hair, gritting his teeth as the hair pulled, sending another wave of pain and nausea through him. He steeled himself and savagely attacked the knots, thinking all the time of Scorpius and what he would do to the half-breed if he were strong enough to. Grimacing, he pulled his hair back again and tied it tightly with one end of the leather binding, then wrapped the rest of it and fastened the end of the tie. By the time he had finished, he was trembling and sweat was beading on his brow.

And suddenly he knew he had lost the battle with the nausea. Leaning down over the toilet, he heaved up the contents of his stomach -- what little he had eaten recently, that was. Bile and acid made his throat burn, and when the retching finally passed he turned back to the sink and rinsed his mouth out, relieved that the nausea had subsided somewhat. He finished readying himself, displeased that he hadn't had time to grab clothing before he escaped into the bathroom. At least he felt a little more in control; less like he would do something to further embarrass himself in front of Scorpius.

Taking a deep breath, he exited the bathroom and walked to the wall panel that hid his wardrobe. He could feel Scorpius' eyes on him, but he ignored the half-breed as he opened the panel and quickly tugged on his clothes. Finally feeling more protected, he strode over to the pile of discarded clothing and retrieved his uniform tunic and boots, pulling them on and completing his armour against the world. The headache had returned, but dressed and feeling more in control of his stomach, it was manageable.

He walked over to his desk, ignoring Scorpius' approach as he contacted the bridge and got his own report of the situation from Braca. Scorpius perched on the corner of his desk and watched as he closed the comm channel and began to pace, rubbing at his forehead. "One unarmed transport flying straight towards us. Makes no sense."

"Pity we can't follow its trail back to the Leviathan," Scorpius said thoughtfully, studying the desk for a moment. Then he lifted his head and asked, "Any other vessels in motion out there?"

Crais looked up at him briefly and answered, "Just our own outbound Marauder, with the alien girl you adopted."

Scorpius frowned slightly at his tone but let it pass, instead asking, "Have you found my security officer assigned to watch her?"

Do you think I care? Crais thought, walking past him and sitting down at his desk before his head got any worse. "Why would the Hynerian be traveling alone?"

"Perhaps," Scorpius said, standing and walking over towards the raised area of the room, "he wishes to become part of your..." Crais could imagine the expression of disgust as the scientist paused, "...collection."

Crais glowered at him, wondering if he could feel his hatred as he gathered all of it and thought it in the scientist's direction. Before either of them could say anything, though, the door opened and Braca entered. Scorpius turned to look over his shoulder at him as he said, "Sirs, this Hynerian Royal was alone aboard the Leviathan transport."

Crais looked up as Rygel floated in on his thronesled with two guards a short distance behind him. The small alien addressed the room, "You want the Leviathan, the Leviathan-gunship offspring, the other escaped prisoners, the defector Aeryn Sun, and especially you want the one called Crichton." As he paused briefly, Crais' expression became much more intent and Scorpius turned to face Rygel more, watching him with definite interest. The Hynerian seemed to come to a decision and continued, "Well, I want my freedom. Interested?"

Crais swallowed hard, his heart pounding in his chest at the prospect of being so close to obtaining everything he desired -- and at the realization that Scorpius was already courting the Hynerian, promising him all the delicacies they could provide while they made their negotiations. He knew, all too well, which offer had interested Scorpius the most. What surprised him, however, was the powerful need to keep Scorpius from getting his claws on Crichton again. He tried to tell himself it was merely a desire to keep the half-breed from succeeding at anything, but a nagging voice in the back of his mind jeered at him -- in Crichton's voice, even -- that he wanted Crichton all to himself...

Since Scorpius seemed to be so eager to make the arrangement, inviting the Hynerian into his quarters and making him comfortable at his table, Crais seated himself in the other chair and watched the spectacle as the Hynerian devoured enough food to feed his crew for days.

He watched, amazed by the disgusting display and struggling against the return of the nausea, as the Hynerian gobbled his way through the food and refilled all of his plates -- twice. "That's your third helping..." he said, no longer attempting to keep the disgust out of his tone. He ignored Scorpius as the half-breed paced back and forth in front of the table.

Rygel looked up and swallowed his mouthful, then said, "That's for my third stomach. That's what happens, you see? By the time it's full the first one's empty again..."

Scorpius stopped in mid-stride and turned to look at Rygel. "Dominar Rygel, my Gammak base is but a short distance from here. Once seated in my Aurora Chair, your hunger pangs will be the least of your discomforts." He stared, disgusted, as Rygel belched audibly in response.

"Um...With all due respect, wrong. You won't get anything out of me that way. Ask him," the Hynerian said, motioning at Crais. "My physiology won't tolerate it."

Crais glowered at him darkly but confirmed, "He would be dead almost instantly."

Scorpius looked back at Rygel again and smiled ghoulishly, "Oh, no need to travel to accommodate that..."

Rygel boldly met his gaze and said, "Look, if I were afraid, I wouldn't have come, would I? Pass the terleum mollusks, please?"

Swallowing against his nausea again, Crais watched as Scorpius walked over to the table and leaned close. "I believe..." he paused, looking at the bowls of delicacies until he spotted the mollusks, "...your offer...was the capture of John Crichton in exchange for your own freedom." He picked up one of the morsels and popped it in his mouth, ignoring Rygel's request completely.

Damn you, Scorpius! Crais thought, irritated that the same man who had accused him of obsession was now obviously obsessed himself. He couldn't keep from nagging, "And the Leviathan, and the--"

Scorpius cut him off, "Insignificant, Captain..." Crais glowered at the half-breed, furious that he had managed to completely undermine him in front of the Hynerian now. Scorpius, of course, ignored him and answered Rygel, "A simple deal to which I agree."

Rygel looked boldly up at the scientist despite the discomfort he felt at Scorpius' sudden close scrutiny, and said, "Hardly simple. I also require a ship, a qualified crew, negotiable currency, a map to my homeworld, and a full pardon."

Scorpius' eyes narrowed and he said, "You're lying..."

Rygel shrugged slightly and said, "All right, I could forego the cash."

Scorpius' eyes narrowed even further. "You're lying about why you're here."

"No, I'm not."

There was definite anger in Scorpius' tone now -- enough to make Crais look up and watch what was happening. "You're wasting our time." The next was directed to Crais himself, "Imprison him. We will capture the others in due course." Then he turned and strode away.

Rygel said, "I don't think so. Look, I know him. John Crichton won't be taken alive."

Scorpius stopped and looked up, although he kept his back to the Hynerian; and smiled humourlessly. "Now he's telling the truth." Crais studied Scorpius carefully, unsure as to what he might do next, although he glanced aside at Rygel when the half-breed spoke again. "And are you willing to help me capture the human Crichton?"

Crais' eyes narrowed, part of him angry because he was all too aware that Scorpius had effectively cut him out of the negotiations completely; part of him angry for reasons he wasn't even willing to admit to himself. Rygel, much to the small alien's credit, managed to restrain a gulp. He knew the Hynerian was a mercenary bastard, but would he really sell out a shipmate?

"I'll do what I have to do for my freedom," Rygel answered, surprising both of the Peacekeepers.

Then Scorpius turned around, his smile chilling Crais to the core. "Very good. Crais, get the Dominar whatever he wishes, and I will make the arrangements," he ordered, smiling as Crais bristled.

As Scorpius left the room, Crais turned his dark glare upon Rygel and asked, "How may I be of assistance, Dominar?" with all of the sarcasm and disgust he could muster.


Crichton paced back and forth in his quarters, analyzing events, mulling them over and over in his mind. He didn't want to believe that Rygel would betray them, but it was far too easy to believe that the mercenary little alien could do it. Hell, if Rygel, Zhaan, and D'argo had been willing to cut off one of Pilot's arms just for a map, of course he'd sell them all out in exchange for his freedom! Wonder what the little shit'll do when he realizes he's burned his bridges with us, but Scorpy's not gonna let him out of there any way other than feet first... he thought bitterly.

He thought he'd made a good show of it, but Aeryn's use of the word 'suicide' wasn't entirely unwarranted -- he was all too aware of why Scorpius was after him, and Rygel wasn't the only one who would go to desperate measures to remain free... He, however, wasn't about to drag anyone else with him!

He sighed and sat down on his bed, resting his head in his hands. "Damn," he muttered quietly. If we just had equal firepower... he thought, wishing that the baby leviathan were at least old enough to be of some use there. "Don't you all think I know how futile this whole thing is?" he asked aloud, not expecting any answer. "Outgunned, outnumbered, we can't run far enough or fast enough to get away from Peacekeeper presence...The only way to keep them off our backs is to take out Scorpy somehow -- ramming with a transport full of explosives is the only option we've got..."

Great, now I'm talking to myself... he thought, squeezing his eyes shut. I'm not goin' back to that damned base, I'm not gettin' back in that goddamned Chair, and that sick half-breed freak is never touching me again... Unbidden, his thoughts turned to Crais, trapped there with Scorpius and unable to do anything about it without further threatening his career. No, damn it, I am not going to feel guilty about doing that -- I had to get out of there...

It's not like I want to die -- I just can't handle going through that again -- there's only so much a guy can take, and this damned universe has been dishing out way too much of it since I got here... he thought angrily. "I'm tired of getting kicked around, and I'm just not gonna let them do it again!"

Needing something constructive to do, he strode to the dresser he kept his accumulated belongings in and began to sort through them, dividing them into groups by who he wanted to give them to, including the things he wanted returned to Earth and his father, if the opportunity ever arose...


Sick of waiting on the Hynerian hand and foot, Crais ran a bath for the small alien, then stormed out of his quarters and stalked the corridors until he ended up in the physical training room. It was deserted except for the crew of one Marauder who were apparently there to work on team maneuvers -- which was, he reflected, a good thing. It left the mechanized sparring dummy free for him to abuse...

He stripped down to his trousers and traded his boots for the softer exercise boots kept in the gym, then keyed an advanced attack into the controls of the sparring dummy. He could tell the Marauder team was watching him, and wondered briefly if they were loyal to him or to Scorpius. Then the sparring dummy whirled into action and he focused his attention on it, countering every move and striking back with a savagery that would cripple most opponents. He visualized himself fighting Scorpius, beating the half-breed back; hurting him...

Thoughts of the current situation threatened to intrude, but he blocked them out, exercising the control that had been so far out of his reach recently. For the moment, his entire world consisted of his opponent and himself, and he was winning... With a roar, he struck a final, killing blow, the computer registering the hit and announcing his victory. The sparring dummy ceased all motion, hanging on its support in an unnatural position, proof of the power of Crais' final strike.

Wordlessly, he changed back to his boots, picked up his tunic and shirt, and strode out of the room past the Marauder team. He could tell they had been watching him, and he hoped that if they were loyal to Scorpius, they would think twice before crossing him.

He pulled on his shirt and tunic, then strode down the corridor, finally returning his attention to the current situation. There really was no choice anymore -- he knew he had no future with the Peacekeepers, and now he actually had the means to escape. Rygel could do whatever he pleased with Scorpius as far as he cared -- perhaps the Hynerian would enjoy the half-breed's attention -- and he would take the transport and run for it...

"Captain!" The voice was almost desperate; he spun and found Braca panting for breath right behind him.

"Yes, Lieutenant?" he asked, wondering why the young officer looked so pale. "Out with it, I have to get back to check on his royal slugness..."

"Sir," Braca hissed, his eyes darting around nervously as they continued to walk, "Before you do, there's something I think you should know about..."

Crais' eyes narrowed as he wondered if Braca were trying to ensnare him somehow -- but then again, he had already buried himself; Scorpius really did not need any further evidence to destroy him. Very well... "What, Lieutenant?"

"Not here," Braca hissed, suddenly silencing himself as a Marauder team approached from an intersecting corridor. The team marched past, smartly saluting Crais as they went, and once they were gone, Braca continued, "Please, Captain, come with me -- just for a moment or two..."

Crais sighed -- what more damage could be done? He followed the nervous young officer to his quarters, surprised to see him lock the door once they were both inside. "What is it, Braca?" he asked, becoming more apprehensive.

"Sir," Braca said, taking a deep breath to steady himself, "I was checking some routine files, and I came across something..." He paused, holding out a data chip to Crais, relieved when the Captain took it, then continued, "I think you should look it over before you go back to see the Hynerian..."


Swallowing his apprehension, Crais keyed open the door to his quarters and entered, then closed and locked the door again behind him. He knew, now, what had to be done -- it was amazingly easy once he had made the decision... He walked towards the raised area of his quarters, where Rygel was sitting up in the tub, indignantly saying, "Excuse me, do you mind?"

Frowning slightly, tired of being pushed around, Crais walked up the stairs. "You have eaten. You have bathed. What next, a nap?"

Rygel perked up and answered, "Hmmn. As a matter of fact...uh..."

With an edge of menace in his tone, Crais said, "We must talk about..." He paused briefly, sitting on the edge of the tub, "...your future."

Rygel snorted and said, "You're clearly not the one to decide my future, Crais."

Anger flared, and Crais asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well. You've lost control here, haven't you? Not that it troubles me, but this Scorpius fellow. He's obviously the one in power now."

Crais was frowning, now, but still sounded calm, "Be that as it may, allow me to make a case for my value in these...negotiations...Your Highness."

Rygel sat up straighter, and made an interested sound -- and Crais' temper flared. His hand lashed out, grabbing the small alien and forcing him underwater before he could do more than look startled. For a moment, Crais entertained the idea of drowning the Hynerian, but he needed the little alien alive -- finally getting a grip on his fury, he let Rygel back up.

"You madman!" Rygel sputtered, not quite edging away from him.

"Do you know what this is?" Crais asked, slapping the data chip into Rygel's hand.

"You madman!" Rygel repeated, still unnerved and unable to come up with anything more rational to say.

Crais growled, "This is your death certificate -- proof you expired."

Recovered enough to bluff, Rygel said, "You're early. Come back tomorrow."

"I am not your reaper," Crais said, finally releasing the small alien. "Scorpius is. Did you really think you could strike an honest bargain with a Scarran half-breed like him? The moment Crichton is in custody, he's ordered your execution to show everyone what he thinks of traitors." The Hynerian's gasp brought a moment of satisfaction, and to further unnerve him, Crais added, "Slow death."

The Hynerian swallowed hard, and then asked the one question Crais was loathe to answer; "Why tell me?"

Frowning, uncomfortable to have to admit it while he sat in his own quarters, on his own ship, Crais said, "Because, ironically, we find ourselves in similar situations. No matter what I do, I have no life beyond court-martial, incarceration; execution."

Rygel studied him for a moment, realizing that suddenly he was the one in power -- he could decide Crais' fate... "So what do you want?"

"To survive... As you do," Crais answered, reminding Rygel that the Hynerian was still at considerable risk himself.

"And just how do we do that?" Rygel asked. Experienced in these matters, he could tell that the Peacekeeper already had a plan in mind...


Crichton stood with the rest of them, waiting for the transport to dock. Did Rygel really think they were going to welcome him back with open arms after the shit he pulled?! For about the thousandth time, he checked his gun, checked the oil cartridge, the sight; holstered it, unholstered it again. The whole thing was insane -- you just didn't go running off to the enemy and then when that didn't work out come crying home again, expecting to be invited in like nothing happened!

The heavy metallic clunk of a ship landing signaled that Rygel had arrived, and as one, all of them who stood in the bay raised their weapons. Chiana's voice announced over the comms, "No Peacekeeper tail ships. So far..."

Pilot's voice followed, saying, "Moya's senses detect no military activity directed towards us."

Crichton was ready. He stood at the end of the line, to the left of D'Argo, Aeryn, and Zhaan, aware that he could trust them; that they were all together on this. They were his allies (at least for the moment, a tiny voice whispered), unlike the supposed shipmate who was just now floating into view on his thronesled to face the weapons they leveled at him.

"Please don't shoot," Rygel requested, a lot calmer than Crichton had expected he would; "Of course, I would have demanded the same precautions myself."

Coldly, Aeryn ordered, "Get off the thronesled, Rygel, and face down on the ground."

"Well, hardly," Rygel responded. "Then I'd miss your reaction to what is about to happen. And please, whatever your reaction, don't let it include weapons fire..."

Curious despite their concern, they watched with guns still ready as it became evident that someone else was approaching -- and then Crais walked out to stand beside Rygel...

Part of Crichton remained completely rational, thinking that of all the things he would have expected, this was the least likely. But the rational part of him was no longer in control, and was just as startled as the others when he laughed and crowed, "My boy Crais!"

Crais studied Crichton's expression, alarmed by the edge of insanity in both his tone and his eyes. So, it wasn't just an act for Scorpius... he thought, anger towards the half-breed reminding him exactly why he had taken this humiliating step. But then, there were the weapons... "Clearly an awkward situation... However, I have asked," he paused briefly to glance aside at the small alien, "Dominar Rygel the XVI for asylum, and he has accepted."

Zhaan blurted, "By the Goddess -- that's insane!" and Crais could see her sentiments echoed in the others' expressions; the fact that none of them had yet lowered their weapons proving that they suspected a trick of some kind.

"What do you need asylum from?" Aeryn asked coldly.

He stepped firmly on his anger and replied, "Before I can answer your questions, I would feel safer in protective custody with passions calmer."

Crichton raised his eyebrows and, with amusement, said, "Protective custody..." Looking at the Sebacean, he could tell the man was desperate; even though he was totally unwilling to show it. Just the fact that he had turned to them for protection -- he could see the exhaustion, the pain, everything Crais was trying so hard to hide. Part of him seethed with fury at Scorpius, knowing the half-breed was responsible for the pain both he and Crais had suffered -- he refused to listen to the voice in the back of his mind that reminded him Crais would never have been driven to this desperate act if he hadn't used him as a distraction to aid his own escape...

Then he realized that Aeryn had instructed Pilot to have the DRD's search the transport for tracking devices, and was now walking forward and ordering Crais to place his hands on his head, fingers laced, while she stalked around behind him and searched him for concealed weapons. And still the Sebacean stared at him, his expression becoming unreadable when he realized Crichton was studying him in return. Zhaan walked forward to guard while Aeryn was searching Crais, and he continued to watch.

"As you can see, I'm unarmed," Crais said quietly, enduring the indignities with far more patience than Crichton had expected. Shifting his grip on his gun, Crichton studied him, trying to read his expression; trying to figure out how he felt about what had happened on the Gammak base and after -- and then suddenly D'Argo was handing him his Qualta blade and walking forward.

"As you can see, I'm also unarmed," the Luxan said, closing the distance. Crichton swallowed hard, realizing that things were about to get ugly. He could see the nervousness, now, as Crais also realized what was going to happen; before Crais could react, D'Argo punched him savagely in the stomach. Doubling over in pain, it was all Crais could do to keep from falling. The next blow from the Luxan solved that problem, dropping him to the ground like a stone. When he tried to roll away from the abuse, D'Argo kicked him savagely, knocking him onto his back.

"You've always said you wanted to kill me," Crais ground out with difficulty -- it took nearly every ounce of strength to force air back into his lungs.

"You knew," D'Argo growled, "You knew all along." Crichton watched, disturbed by D'Argo's savagery and upset by its cause; unable to move to aid either one. "Tell them," the Luxan said, then as his fury grew, "Tell them!"

Straining to get the words out, Crais said, "Ka D'Argo did not commit the crime that he was imprisoned for." And then D'Argo roared with fury and kicked him again. "His mate was killed by someone else."

"Her own brother; a Peacekeeper," Aeryn said coldly.

Crichton couldn't take it anymore. "You knew, and you kept him in chains," he said, horrified. How could Crais do such a thing?

"No matter what I knew, only a tribunal order can release a convicted murderer," Crais answered, speech still difficult as every breath was a battle with his own bruised body.

"Easy answer," Crichton said angrily.

"There is much in life that is unfair. We are all proof of that," Crais said, pain evident in his tone.

Unfair? This goes way beyond unfair... Crichton thought, looking down at Crais. "If life was fair, you'd be dead," he said, trying to figure out if he imagined the hurt that flashed momentarily in Crais' eyes.

The Sebacean tried to sit up and winced in pain, fell back to the floor. Zhaan tugged on D'Argo's shoulder, pulling him away from their immediate vicinity; then murmured, "Come, D'Argo, he cannot harm you now..." As they backed away, D'Argo retrieved his blade from the distracted human and snarled down at Crais.

Aeryn moved in, prepared to haul Crais to his feet or shoot him, whichever was more appropriate; until she realized that he and Crichton were staring at each other. There was something very strange going on here...

Crais stared up into the clear blue eyes, seeing the pain and confusion there. He tried to sit up again, grunting with pain as he managed to prop himself up. "If life was fair, Scorpius would be dead," he said pointedly. He could see the moment of indecision in Crichton's eyes, the pain and fear quickly covered -- and then the human was reaching down to grasp his arm and help him stand. His head spun and the merciless pounding in his temples returned with a vengeance, and for a horrible moment he was certain he would pass out, until Crichton slid an arm about his waist to support him.

It was all he could do to restrain a soft moan as Crichton pulled him closer, the pain of his bruised body warring with the effect the human's warmth was having on him. Crichton was talking to Aeryn, saying something about taking him to a cell, but he was concentrating too hard on remembering how to breathe to catch all of it. Then he realized Crichton had turned back to him and was speaking directly to him.

"I said, 'can you stand?'" Crichton repeated, torn between his anger and concern at how unwell Crais actually looked. The dark circles under his eyes and the paleness of his skin indicated that things had not gone well for the Peacekeeper after he had escaped. Crais' comment about Scorpius also concerned him -- even though he was furious with himself for caring, he wanted desperately to strangle the half-breed if what he suspected were true... "You look like dren," he added more gently.

Crais steadied himself, determined to stand on his own and not show such weakness in front of Aeryn, then answered, "I can stand. I have endured far worse than a beating by a Luxan." Something about the way he said it told Crichton he was not referring to battles, but something much more recent...

"We should put him in the cell, Crichton," Aeryn said coldly, shifting her grip on her pulse rifle. "We can't afford to stand around talking about things..."

Crichton looked back at her and said, "Yeah -- yeah, you're right. C'mon, Crais. You know where the cells are..."

Subdued, moving slowly as his bruised body protested, Crais headed for the cells with Crichton and Aeryn following, weapons ready. Once there, he stepped obediently into the cell, determined to show them that he was not a threat. Aeryn asked, "So, is there anything you want to say to me?"

Crais turned back to meet her gaze and answered, "I think we covered it all when you left me for dead in the Aurora Chair."

Crichton was proud of himself -- he managed to keep his expression neutral at this revelation. Inside, his mind was screaming, unable to wrap itself around the thought that Aeryn, an ally and one of the good guys, could have done something like that to a man who used to be her commanding officer. It wasn't the kind of thing they did! If someone had said that Rygel had done it, that he could almost believe -- and even Zhaan and D'Argo had been involved when they cut off one of Pilot's arms to trade with Nam-Tar -- but Aeryn...

Unbidden, a memory rose in his mind's eye: Aeryn returning to them with an ident chip as they hid in the Gammak base, and telling him that she had run into 'an old friend'. Obviously, she had run into Crais after Scorpius had been questioning him -- and had done something to him so serious that she had assumed he would die...

Then he realized she was answering, her tone cold. "Good. I'm going to go and check out their transport myself. I still don't trust either of them." She turned and walked off, leaving him there.

Crichton stood there for a moment, then shifted his grip on his weapon and closed the cell door. Then he leaned in close and looked Crais in the eye, "What are you doing here, Crais? Really?"

It was more than obvious from the Peacekeeper's (Ex-Peacekeeper, Crichton amended mentally) attitude that he was furious at his imprisonment, at the situation that had led to him being in that position in the first place, and at things that Crichton didn't even want to think about... Quietly, Crais answered, "I believe my best chance is to let the Hynerian explain my position to you."

Amused, despite the fact that he knew he shouldn't be, Crichton said, "You're letting Rygel be your advocate?" Crais remained silent, glowering at the wall, as Crichton continued, "You're worse off than you look."

Crais looked up at him, fury blazing in his eyes. He was pleased to see Crichton's expression harden -- it made things easier to deal with if the human thought of him as an enemy. "That's good, Crichton, hate me for the sadistic bastard I am. It's what they trained me to be..."

And suddenly those blue eyes softened again, sending a shiver through Crais. Crichton smiled wistfully and murmured, "But not what you were raised to be..."

"Leave that out of this," Crais growled, using the fact that he knew Crichton had obtained that knowledge from the false memory in the Aurora Chair in an attempt to sustain his anger.

"Why, Crais? You're not like most Peacekeepers -- you've known what it's like to have a family, people who love you..." Crichton said softly, seeing the sadness and pain starting to overwhelm the anger. "It had to be something really bad to make you leave the one thing you had left... Do you really want Rygel to be the one to explain it to me?"

Crais shook his head, ducking his gaze and studying the floor. For a moment, Crichton thought he had pushed too hard, then Crais' head snapped up again. "You'd never understand..." he murmured.

"Try me..."


Crichton was amazed how much disgust and loathing could be crammed into one simple word; amazed at how, even now, just the thought of the sadistic scientist could make him shiver. "He raped you..." Crichton murmured, feeling a pang of guilt at the knowledge that he had made it possible.

The stricken look in the hazel eyes confirmed his suspicions. He shook his head and murmured, "I'm sorry -- I had to get out of there -- he was driving me insane with that Chair of his..."

Crais pounded his fist on the cell door, startling him badly. "Driving you insane? He went fishing in my head for something that never happened because you and that traitorous Tech set him on me! When he was done, Officer Sun happened upon me and left me there with the Chair on full..." Suddenly running out of steam, he added in a whisper, "I wished for death..."

"But you survived..." Crichton said equally quietly. After a long moment of silence, he prompted, "And after we escaped?"

"Scorpius... decided that it would be better off for all involved if he took over your pursuit..." Crais said uncomfortably.

Crichton studied him, well aware that he was holding back everything except the barest amount of information he could give. Something in the way Crais was suddenly avoiding eye contact -- it was more than simple disgust and fear of the situation; something had happened to the Sebacean that had shaken him to his very core -- nothing any less drastic would have made him flee to his enemies for help... "Crais, tell me what he did, please?"

"Is this really so easy for you humans?" Crais asked bitterly, looking up again to see Crichton studying him. "To bare your soul to another?"

"Actually, no, it usually isn't," Crichton admitted. "But hell, you've seen me at my weakest, my most vulnerable... You and I have been closer, physically, than I've been with anyone on Moya for-- well, let's just skip that part. We've been damned close, and that bastard Scorpius has abused the hell out of both of us... Tell me what happened."

Crais swallowed hard and nodded, but found he couldn't speak under Crichton's intense scrutiny. He took a step closer to the door, then sat down. A deep breath, then, studying his hands, he said, "He asked me about you -- in the Chair. You were right; he was using both of us to satisfy his disgusting urges -- watching my memories of you and enjoying them by feeding off what I felt..."

Crais paused, and Crichton nodded, disturbed by the cold sweat that had broken out on his forehead; the chills that thoughts of their experiences brought... "Yeah...That's what he did to me, too..."

"That's not all," Crais whispered, "He-- I-- I have spent the past few nights as his slave, drugged into submission; unable to control my own reactions and actually responding to that grotesque creature's touch!" A violent shudder passed through him at the remembrance of Scorpius' attentions.

When Crais looked up, Crichton was kneeling closer to the door, the gun lying across the corridor out of reach. Crichton reached into the cell and gently touched his shoulder. "He still had to drug you, Crais. Nothing to be ashamed about, no matter how it ended up..."

"Your people use your lack of control as an excuse," Crais said quietly. "I do not have that option -- drugged or not, that loss of control was..."

"Terrifying," Crichton finished, reading it in his eyes before Crais looked away again. "Yeah, I know. So, you left with Rygel because Scorpy turned your life into a living hell...would you go back if he was dead?"

"I cannot -- I believe Scorpius has already made his report on my 'treason'. I am now as homeless as Officer Sun."

"Wow," Crichton murmured, standing up again and pacing back and forth in the corridor. "So now what do we do?"


Lieutenant Braca entered the quarters that until very recently had been Crais' to find Scorpius pacing and reading something. Without looking up, the half-breed ordered, "Report, Lieutenant."

"As the vector narrows, our search team is confident of locating the Leviathan within several arns."

"Excellent, Lieutenant. Keep me informed," Scorpius said, then added "Any word from Captain Crais?" The boredom in his tone was obvious.

"None, Sir." Scorpius looked at him and stopped pacing, then nodded. Braca nodded in return and turned to leave, then paused. "Sir? Permission to speak freely?"

Very softly, Scorpius answered, "Of course, Lieutenant. If you weren't free to, I would not have you here."

Braca digested that statement uncomfortably, but tried to keep it from showing; prayed that Scorpius wouldn't sense his discomfort. He asked, "If you suspected the Captain might not return of his own volition, why did you let him go?"

Scorpius walked to Braca and put a hand on his shoulder. Quietly, he said, "We all have windows of usefulness. If we don't take advantage of them, our careers may fade." Braca nodded nervously, and Scorpius let go, then continued, "For example, my instincts tell me that your career may well be on the rise..." He patted Braca on the shoulder then strode out of his quarters, leaving Braca there, staring at his shoulder as if some hideous creature had perched upon it.

I'm not entirely sure that's where I want my career to rise to, Braca thought uncomfortably.


After his confession, Crais had withdrawn, still sitting on the floor of the cell but not looking at Crichton. Eventually, Crichton stopped pacing and sat down in the corridor opposite the cell, picking up the gun again and folding up defensively. Their discussion had made him extremely uncomfortable, and it was all he could do to remind himself that Scorpius was not there, was not touching him; was not whispering in his ear...

Enough! he thought, shaking himself out of what he figured had to be some kind of post-traumatic stress flashback. More than enough! He looked up to see Crais' attention focus on him suddenly, and for just an instant he thought he could see a spark of madness in the hazel eyes, then it was gone and Crais was frowning slightly. "How you doin'?" he asked the Sebacean quietly.

"Why would you ask?" Crais answered softly. He didn't want to let Crichton know how relieved he was to have something to distract him from the horror of his memories...

"I look at you," Crichton answered quietly, "and I get homesick. I'm -- desperate for human male-to-male conversation, and I figure...cars, football, they're out of the question."

"Do you think it's an accident...our species are so much alike?"

"Do you know the answer to that?" Crichton asked in return. It had been something he had wondered about ever since he first met Aeryn...

"No. It's one of the mysteries I'll miss solving," Crais answered sadly.

You think we're going to kill you? Crichton thought, digesting the finality of Crais' statement. "Yeah. Kind of makes you feel your own mortality, doesn't it? Being in there?" he asked, trying to sound out Crais' mood, and in the meantime give him back just a little of what he had been dishing out over the time they had known each other... Quieter, now, "That's what it's like for us, every day..." He paused, fighting to talk through the lump that had formed in his throat; realizing that the tears he'd been trying to blink away had spilled over and run down his cheek... "...every hour...every minute...every second with you riding our asses."

He knew he had succeeded when Crais looked upset. Part of him ached seeing the pain in Crais' eyes and knowing he had caused it, but it was only fair!

"I understand you didn't mean to kill my brother. It was an accident. I realize that now, as I look back and try to understand it all," Crais admitted softly, aware of the pain he had caused Crichton and the rest of the fugitives. They had every right to strike back, especially Crichton...

"Do you have any idea what you put me through? All of us, through?" Crichton pressed, trying not to look too closely at his own wording.

Blinking away his own tears, Crais said, "I thought it was about my brother." He looked down, then, "It should have been about my brother." When he looked back up, he met Crichton's gaze and said, "Somewhere along the way my priorities...decayed. I realized I'd become more concerned with my own image and career." He looked down again, painfully aware that in becoming so obsessed, he had lost both.

"Do you mean to help?" Crichton asked, his heart pounding in his ears. He was amazed at how much he wanted Crais to say 'yes'... When Crais looked up to meet his gaze again, he said, "Now's the time..."


Crichton sat behind a console, listening to the others debating what their plan would be while Crais stood by and analyzed it from a PeaceKeeper point of view. He stole a glance at the Sebacean, found the hazel gaze fixed on him. He tried to drag his attention back to the discussion, away from what had happened when he had opened the cell to let Crais out... He shivered slightly as the memory intruded anyway; Crais drawing even with him and taking a step closer, arms suddenly on either side of him effectively pinning him against the wall. The Sebacean had then pressed up against him, forcing him back against the wall just as he had in the quarters on Scorpius' base, and purred, "Don't think all of this means you're no longer mine, Crichton..."

He swallowed hard and shook his head, forcing his mind back to the present; forcing his body to behave itself. He regained control over his subconscious just in time to hear Aeryn ask Crais, "How long is Scorpius likely to delay attacking us?"

Crais stared straight at the computer panel and said, "Once he discovers your location, expect no delay." He could see Crichton's gaze turn to him, but he continued, "Fly a transport into the bridge of a Command Carrier? Suicide. The ship's sensors will detect explosive contents, and you will be destroyed well out of range."

The others glanced uncomfortably at each other, and Zhaan said, "The Kronite won't be active until the catalyst is added. It will appear to be a perfectly normal transport."

"With weighted tonnage, moving slowly? What do you think, Officer Sun?" Crais asked pointedly.

Aeryn straightened, feeling somewhat uncomfortable that he had pointed this out when she hadn't. She could feel Chiana and Crichton both look at her, but whereas Crichton was only looking for her answer, Chiana seemed ready to accuse her of something. "It's a longshot, but it's all we've got," she answered.

"No," D'Argo said, "I have another idea. What does Scorpius value more than this Leviathan?" Crais glanced over at Crichton, whose eyes darted in his direction, but D'Argo either ignored or never saw the interchange, instead continuing, "I wager that precious research base down on that moon."

Chiana grinned, obviously liking that idea, and said, "The oil-covered moon. Brilliant. Light his world on fire..."

Crichton allowed himself to feel a glimmer of hope, although Rygel's arrival put a damper on that for a moment. "No," the Hynerian said, "Scorpius is no fool. He'll never allow it." Crichton had to wonder how much of Scorpius' hospitality the little alien had had the chance to enjoy.

D'Argo shook his head slightly and said, "Perfect. If he is as clever as you all say that he is, he will see the weight and explosive content for exactly what it is."

Zhaan smiled slightly and said, "A flying ignition source."

"Which would force him to do what?" D'Argo asked.

Crais had been watching them all, silently, but at this he looked down at the panel again. "Theoretically, to turn and pursue, closing range to destroy you."

"And when they change course?" D'Argo pushed.

"Moya has the time to get clear of the asteroid field and Starburst to freedom," Crichton said, letting that tiny glimmer of hope rekindle. "Solid, D'Argo."

"What about Moya's baby?" Chiana asked.

Crichton smiled slightly and said, "He tucks in close, and we take him through the Starburst with us."

"Someone still has to fly it, though," Zhaan said softly. Crichton looked at all of the faces in front of him, but said nothing. He already knew that he was going to be in the transport -- Scorpius was not getting his claws on him again.

"One of us will have to sacrifice ourselves for the others," D'Argo said.

Chiana frowned unhappily at that, and Rygel backed off, distancing himself from the rest of them. "The plan is flawed," Crais stated. As Zhaan and D'Argo looked up at him, he continued, "Scorpius will not chase the transport because there's one thing that he values more than his precious base." The others were surprised by the anger and discomfort evident in his expression; as he looked over at Crichton they gradually followed his gaze, starting to realize what he was implying as Crichton met his gaze with a hard, uncomfortable stare...


Scorpius sat at the desk in his confiscated quarters, thinking about what he was going to do to Crais and Crichton when he had both of them back in his custody. He would administer more of the drug to Crais and force Crichton to watch as the Sebacean spread his muscular thighs and submitted to him, begged him for savage penetration; pleaded for release... And then he would force Crais to watch as he brought Crichton to the same state of desperation -- without the use of any drug... Oh, it would be so good...

Braca burst into the room, interrupting his thoughts. "High Command has responded to your communique, Sir," the junior officer reported, placing something on the desk. "Due to his now prolonged contact with the fugitives aboard their vessel, Captain Crais has now been officially pronounced irrevocably contaminated."

Scorpius raised an eyebrow, noticing that it was becoming more difficult for the young officer to get the words out -- it was obvious he had been loyal to Crais, despite his desire to keep his own career afloat. He looked up to study Braca, then returned his attention to the report.

"You are officially authorized to take control of the situation as you see appropriate," Braca continued, pausing for a deep breath. "Congratulations, Sir."

Scorpius smiled slightly, and very calmly said, "Well, let's prove them correct, Lieutenant. Search status?"

"Any moment, and we'll have them. I suggest we broadcast an appeal for surrender."

"Since that will only lead to an act of desperation, we attack unannounced."

"Orders of engagement?" Braca asked.

Still studying the report, Scorpius answered, "Cripple the Leviathan so it can no longer function." He raised his head, then, envisioning the possibilities, "If the offspring responds to our signal take it into custody. If it attempts to retaliate or flee," he finally turned his attention to Braca, "destroy it."


Crais smiled, pleased that he had finally been allowed free access to the various areas in Moya. It was tedious at best being escorted everywhere by Officer Sun and her favourite pulse rifle. He didn't trust her not to use it on him, and claim to the others that he had forced her to shoot him by attacking first... He had finally located Crichton's quarters, and paused outside when he heard the human's voice. He seemed to be speaking to that little toad of a Hynerian...

He heard the Hynerian protest something indignantly, and then Crichton said, "Hey, maybe you'll get lucky; we'll all die and you can have all our stuff."

Rygel protested again, and then he could hear -- just barely -- Crichton answer in a quiet, dangerous tone, "Sparky, Spanky, Fluffy, Buckwheat the 16th..." There was a sudden gasp, and then Crichton again, "You tried to sell us out!" Something about that low, dangerous tone sent a shiver up Crais' spine.

He continued to listen as Rygel countered with, "But I didn't, did I?"

In response to that, Crichton responded in the same quiet, dangerous tone, "They weren't buying, were they?" Crais smiled slightly -- Crichton was no fool; he had managed to figure out practically everything that had transpired on the Command Carrier. Scorpius would underestimate him -- it was the one chance they had to defeat the half-breed...

He realized he had missed more of the discussion, but he heard Crichton saying, "Rygel... I figure the right thing starts at the beginning of the day, not after you've been caught." His smile widened as he thought how good an illustration of John Crichton that statement had been.

Again there were sounds he couldn't place, and then Rygel said, "Thank you." He sounded unsure, but after a pause clarified, "For the possessions..." He turned and zoomed out, not seeing Crais as he flattened himself against the bulkhead. Once Rygel was gone, Crais straightened and strode into Crichton's quarters where he found the human standing next to his bed, studying his flight suit.

Crichton looked up, surprised to see him there. "Thought you were out with Aeryn, looking at Moya's baby..."

"He's magnificent," Crais said, obviously impressed and making no attempt to hide that fact. "But, we returned a short while ago, and I wished to speak with you again, before-- before it is too late."

"Yeah, okay -- what did you want?" Crichton asked, only seeing the heat in Crais' gaze after he asked. "Oh." He tried to edge away from the bed, smiling apologetically, and said, "Uh... I don't know if that's a good idea here..."

Crais closed the distance quickly, unwilling to let him escape. He steered Crichton towards the bulkhead, cutting off his escape route when it looked like the human might bolt. "I think it's a perfect idea, Crichton. And, as I told you earlier, you are still mine..."

Crichton realized he was cornered -- in his own room! Crais had obviously regained much of his confidence, and really didn't seem like he was going to take no for an answer. Crichton continued to back away, and suddenly Crais was right there, forcing him back into the wall, pressing against him...

"I already told Chiana," Crichton protested, trying to push him back, "Not before the big game!"

"Don't be a fool, Crichton," Crais purred, leaning in close to nuzzle his neck and whisper in his ear, "I'm no idiot, I know what you plan to do; how you plan to escape Scorpius...This might be your last chance to experience pleasure..." He ground his hips against Crichton's, savouring the groan as he pressed against the human's rapidly hardening cock. "Besides, I don't see you objecting that much now..." he murmured, dipping his tongue into Crichton's ear and smiling as Crichton's knees buckled. The human was his...

He pulled Crichton away from the wall and shoved him down onto the bed, then tore at his clothes with impatient fingers. Crichton raised his hands, and at first he thought the human was still trying to stop him -- until he realized the frantic fingers were working at the fastenings of his own uniform. "Too many frelling layers in the way," Crichton forced out through his teeth. After a few moments of desperate fumbling, Crais was naked and Crichton lay under him trying to peel his own trousers off. "Damn you, help me out of these things!"

Crais couldn't restrain a laugh as Crichton looked up at him in desperation, then stood and tugged the leather trousers off Crichton. "I thought you didn't want this, Crichton..." he purred, climbing back onto the bed and pinning the human down. Crichton groaned and surged up against him, strong arms wrapping around him and pulling them tight together.

Crais moaned and fastened his lips on Crichton's; kissed him roughly, feeling the surge of arousal that rocketed through the muscular body beneath him. Already the human was surrendering to him, eagerly opening his legs and writhing against him; desperate to feel that he was alive -- even if only for a few more arns.

Crais forced that thought to the back of his mind and rolled them onto their sides, sliding a hand down to knead a muscular buttcheek; relishing the way Crichton panted into his kiss. Crichton's surrender sent a shock of arousal through him, and he pulled back, forcing Crichton over onto his stomach.

"Ohgod..." Crichton gasped into the pillow, spreading his legs as the Sebacean caressed him roughly, sliding both hands down to knead the muscular buttocks and thighs, then pausing for a brief moment to grab another pillow and shove it under Crichton's hips. "Oh yeah..." Crichton murmured, "Okay, just this once I'll ignore the coach's advice..."

"That's good, Crichton," Crais purred, leaning down to lick and bite one of those perfect cheeks, smiling as the human jerked under him in surprise, "I wasn't going to stop even if you decided otherwise..."

"Oh god..." He wasn't sure what Crais was planning, but then the Sebacean dove in and ran his tongue between Crichton's cheeks. Arousal burned along his nerves, flaring sharply as he felt the warm wetness probe deeper, flicking teasingly across his anus. He sucked in a sharp breath as the very tip of Crais' tongue circled the puckered opening, and then forced its way in. "Damn! Oh sh--" Crichton broke off, burying his face in the pillow before Crais could see how completely helpless he was suddenly. He squirmed and spread his legs further, jumped in surprise as Crais' moustache and beard tickled him.

Crais chuckled and pulled back slightly, tickling Crichton on purpose. The way the human squirmed in front of him was driving him wild -- he couldn't succumb to his own arousal yet, though. He needed to prepare Crichton enough to keep from damaging him -- but not more than that. He smiled slightly and dove in again, circling the puckered opening, feeling it twitch under his tongue; feeling the muscles beginning to relax under his ministrations, allowing him in, welcoming him. He thrust deeper with every stroke, the tight channel opening to him eagerly now; Crichton groaning into the pillow and writhing up into him, trying to drive him deeper.

"Oh god, Crais," he moaned, raising his head again, "please -- oh god, will you please frell me!"

Crais intensified his motions, fucking Crichton with his tongue as the human squirmed almost desperately beneath him. He could tell Crichton was nearing the proper stage of arousal, his body so hungry that nothing would register as pain -- it was time.

Crichton gasped as he felt Crais' hands fasten on his hips, the grip strong enough to hold him still as the Sebacean thrust as deep as possible a few more times. Part of him couldn't believe how hot Crais had him -- he knew that right then the stronger man could do anything to him, and he would allow it. It was then that he realized what Crais was doing, and arousal burned through him like fire at the mere thought of it.

He felt Crais plunge that tormenting tongue deep one last time, then he was pulling back and moving. The next thing he knew, the head of Crais' cock was pushing its way into him, his body opening to accept it eagerly; pushing back to impale himself on the hot, hard flesh. He could feel every inch work its way into him, almost painfully -- almost. Except that he wanted it so badly that even the pain felt so very good...

Crais pushed into him steadily, carefully watching for any sign that he may be genuinely hurting Crichton. And then he felt the groan and shudder that went through the human as their bodies came together, and knew that he didn't need to worry.

As Crais slid all the way in, Crichton groaned, consumed by pure animal lust. This was how it was in his dreams; Crais slamming into him almost dry, snarling and growling like a wild thing, owning his body completely. He wasn't sure what turned him on more -- the act itself, or the fact that he could make Crais lose control like this. It didn't really matter which one, though -- it was enough to feel the intense pleasure as Crais shoved deep.

Crais remained still for a moment, relishing the tight heat that held him so eagerly. He could feel Crichton pressing up into him and finally took pity upon the desperate human, twitching his hips forward slightly and driving his cock that much deeper. Crichton cried out, a sound of pure pleasure and lust, and that was all the encouragement he needed. He slid nearly all the way out, then rammed back in, driving deep again. He repeated the motion, building quickly to a punishing rhythm that pounded at Crichton's prostate.

Knowing he wanted more, Crichton's hoarse moans of pleasure stoking the fire centered in his balls, Crais grabbed Crichton's hips on his next near-withdrawal and hauled him up to his hands and knees. Crichton's arms buckled as short-circuiting nerves left him helpless, but he remained on his knees with his ass high, ready and waiting for anything Crais had for him. With a growl, Crais rammed back in, feeling Crichton's body surrendering to him.

Crichton groaned as Crais pounded into him; he could feel Crais' fingers digging into his hips to hold him steady, and knew that was the only thing holding him up at all. His nerves refused to transmit any impulses beyond the overwhelming pleasure; his body burning away in the fire that blazed from deep within. Crais pounded him mercilessly, although even in his savagery the Sebacean made certain the pleasure wasn't one-sided. "Oh-- god--" Crichton gasped, trying to protest that the pleasure was too much, he couldn't contain it. Instead, he couldn't even finish the thought, his next word an inarticulate moan as Crais' hand released his hip, closed around his throbbing erection, and began to pump.

The pleasure that had been growing now flared sharply, and Crichton gasped in reaction. He felt Crais drive deep and then explode in orgasm, hot spurts of cum washing his insides and triggering his own explosion. He screamed into the pillow as pleasure arced through him, his entire body spasming as he came. Crais groaned and continued to thrust helplessly into him, Crichton's internal muscles squeezing him and drawing his orgasm out until they both collapsed in a shuddering heap.

Panting for breath, Crichton eased himself into a more comfortable position and settled back into Crais, relishing the feel of the Sebacean against him. "Wow..." he murmured when he finally managed to speak, "How the hell do you do that?"

Crais chuckled and drew Crichton back against him, gently nuzzling and caressing, and whispered, "It's a secret..." He reluctantly withdrew, too aware that they had a limited amount of time before reality intruded on their lives again.

Crichton sighed and turned to face him, then murmured "Never knew PeaceKeeper training included incapacitating your enemy through mindblowing sex..."

Crais chuckled again and answered, "Now that you know our secret I'll have to kill you..." Then his eyes widened and he said, "Actually, I won't have to kill you -- I am no longer a PeaceKeeper..."

"What the hell are you going to do, anyway?" Crichton asked, "Stay on Moya until they can drop you somewhere?"

"If they'll have me..."

Crichton heard the emotion underlying the flippant words -- it suddenly hit him that Crais was completely alone for the first time in his life and despite trying to appear strong, was probably terrified. "I'll make sure they do," he said quietly.

"Thank you," Crais said softly. He gently stroked up and down Crichton's side and smiled as the human relaxed into the caress. As much as he wanted to stay this way, he knew they couldn't afford to. "We should get cleaned up and see what the others are doing..."

Crichton nodded, although he couldn't completely hide his disappointment. "Yeah, I know -- Scorpy isn't gonna wait while we frell each other silly."

"Unfortunately, no, he isn't..." Crais answered, "and we have strategies to discuss."


Crichton stood in the doorway for a long moment, watching the beings he'd come to think of as his family enjoy the feast Chiana had set out for them. He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat and squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to stop the tears he could feel burning him. When did this happen? Somewhere in the past cycle -- past year, he corrected himself, thinking that he had even begun to think in their terms -- he had genuinely come to care for every inmate of the asylum, even the one who had been trying so hard to kill him...

It made his heart ache to think of what was to come, and scared him when he thought about how firm his resolve was. A year ago this would have been impossible -- he was aware of how much he had changed, and how much he had changed all of those around him. It was...humbling.

He shook his head and quietly walked away, leaving them to their feast. He knew he was invited, but just couldn't bring himself to face them at the moment; couldn't bring himself to make the pain of goodbye that much sharper.

He heard a scurrying noise and stopped short, looking down to find one of the DRD's at his feet. It was the one he had broken and repaired with some electrical tape when he had first arrived in this insane section of the universe. "Hey, little guy, what's up?" He knelt down and gently stroked the repaired antenna, then asked, "You're not--" and stopped to swallow hard around the lump in his throat. This is ridiculous -- I'm gonna cry now because of a little robot? But you're not just a robot, are you; you're part of Moya, and that makes you just as much a being as everyone else here...Damn. A deep breath, then he cleared his throat and tried again. "You're not trying to tell me you're gonna miss me, too, are you?"

The DRD chirped something and he felt his chest tighten at what he could interpret from the sounds. "Yeah, I'm gonna miss you, too," he murmured. "Hey, come on, I've got something I need to do before-- before it's time."

He stood again and walked down the corridor to his quarters, pulling out his recorder and looping the chain his father's puzzle ring hung from around the lamp's neck, then sat at the table. The DRD nudged his foot and he looked down in surprise. "What, you want to sit up here? Okay, up you go..." he said with a laugh, picking up the DRD and putting it down on the table. "Okay, you hang out for a couple of minutes, okay?"

He smiled to himself slightly as he held up his right hand, pinky and index finger extended, then held the fingers out to the DRD's 'eyestalk' lights, turning his hand to mirror the DRD's motions. I'm never gonna laugh at someone talking to their computer again... Then he sobered, took a deep breath and pressed the record button.

"One other thing, Dad. You remember the day I left? You told me that every man has a chance to become his own kind of hero. Well, I don't think I'll be coming home, so I won't get that ticker tape parade, and I doubt that I'll have kids, so I won't get the chance to be a hero to them, but I think I know what you meant. I've got...a strange life here, Dad." He paused, tapping the DRD, then continued, "It's different, but it's my home.

"I have people who rely on me, people who I care about, people who mystify me and people who have become allies..."

Kinda scares me to think of the little frog that way, but he has. Still pisses me off, though...


And Blue really has -- current situations aside, it's not every alien I let walk around in my head!

"...and people who teach me patience..."

Chi -- you're like the little sister I never had... Watch yourself, huh?

"...and people who teach me -- other things."

Oh man, Dad -- I don't think you'd ever be ready to hear about those other things, though... I'm not sure I want to analyze it too much... I thought Aeryn was the Sebacean I was gonna fall for, but now Crais is... Damn.

"Well, you said the time would come, and I think it has. 'I had a job to do,'" he said, picking up the Peacekeeper pistol that lay on the table, "'...and I am unafraid.'" He slid the pistol into its holster, then continued, "That's what you said when they asked you what it was like to walk on the moon." He tugged the ring off the lamp by its chain and held it up, then said, "You did good, Dad. You taught me well." He closed his hand around the ring and softly said, "This is John Crichton, somewhere in the Universe."

Stopping the tape, he stood and strode from the room, heading for the hangar bay where he knew the others would be gathering soon. It was time...


Crais watched as Zhaan blessed Crichton and D'Argo, wondering what it was that Crichton whispered to the Luxan when they leaned close to each other. He knew that the Luxan's sense of smell had to be picking up his scent all over Crichton, and was relieved that he had found it within himself to be kind enough to remain quiet about it...

He continued to stand aside, watching quietly as Crichton said his goodbyes to his friends, and then the human strode over to stop right in front of him. He could feel all the others watching, and had to duck his gaze before he did something he would regret -- he could feel those pale eyes looking right through him. "So, you got any final words of wisdom?"

Relief flooded the Sebacean -- thinking of tactics and battles kept him from thinking about the human's magnificent body; kept him from pulling him into a close embrace and punishing kiss... He answered, "Our pilots are trained to expect evasive maneuvers. Fly a direct course."

"Right," Crichton answered, and Crais found himself wondering if the human was fighting the same desires he was. There was an element of sorrow in those pale eyes that made Crais' heart ache in response, but the time for acting on their desires was past... He could feel the others watching them carefully, and wondered if perhaps the Luxan had told the rest of them. Thankfully, if he had told them, they were also remaining quiet about it...

He watched as the Luxan and Crichton walked towards the transport, feeling sadness well up inside him -- he would be alone again, after he had allowed the human to slip inside his defences... Then Crichton was talking softly to Aeryn, not going over details of the plan but saying something about not saying goodbye. And then the door slid shut and Crichton was gone.

It was time to follow up on his own plan. He knew that with Crichton gone, any protection he had been promised was worth as much as his Peacekeeper commission. But, there was one way out of his predicament -- one way that would afford him all of the freedom and ability to defend himself that he could want. One way that he might even be able to use to get back at that damnable halfbreed Scorpius...

He hung well back but followed when the others went up to the command deck, no one thinking of him now that their attention was focused on Crichton and D'Argo in the transport. He heard Zhaan tell Pilot to instruct the baby Leviathan to stay close enough to them when they went into Starburst, and smiled grimly. He continued to observe, analyzing the progress Crichton and D'Argo were making, until Pilot mentioned that the baby Leviathan was not responding to his requests. Aeryn told Pilot to call the baby by his name; Talyn, named after her father. Interesting to see you grow so sentimental, Officer Sun... John Crichton seems to have had quite an effect on all of us.

But now was not the time for sentimentality or emotions. The others would view his next act as a betrayal of their trust, but he was not foolish enough to think he would be welcome with them. The offspring -- Talyn -- had resulted from his efforts; it was only right that he should be able to make use of him -- he would need a way to defend himself...

He quietly backed off the command deck and made his way to the transport bay, making an effort to avoid any DRD's on the way. Once there, he climbed into one of the transports and hurriedly launched it; keeping the comms open to listen in on Crichton's progress. With luck he would be aboard Talyn before the others even realized he was gone.

Just as he reached Talyn, he heard Crichton telling the others, "We may have screwed up here. The transport should've hit the oil sea by now--" And then a spark of ignition blossomed into fierce conflagration, engulfing the moon in moments. He scrambled to Talyn's command deck, making sure he could use the commotion to make good his escape.

He could hear the chatter across the comms, Aeryn spotting Crichton and the Luxan but unable to reach them because of the other Prowlers; telling them to try to hang on... And then he heard Pilot tell them of his betrayal.

"Ship, deploy into the asteroid field where the debris is densest," he ordered, ignoring the pang of guilt as he knew Crichton and the Luxan were probably lost. If he stayed, Aeryn would have a chance against the other Prowlers, but he just could not risk it...

Rygel's voice came across the comms, asking him, "Crais, what the yotz are you doing?"

"Saving myself, your Eminence; I'm sure to your envy," he responded. He knew, beyond any doubt, that given the chance the Hynerian would have fled, himself.

The next voice was the Delvian, making an appeal to not only his concern for Talyn, but also his own sense of self-preservation: "Talyn is not mature enough to StarBurst. If you attempt this, you will damage him. You may die."

Oh, you need not worry about that, Pa'u -- I plan to keep myself alive for as long as possible! he thought, then responded, "Thank you, Priest, but I know that. We'll be fine -- where no one can follow us, you or the Peacekeepers."

And then, of course, Aeryn... "Crais, you listen to me now. You stop what you are doing and you leave the ship now."

"Officer Sun, if by some strange quirk you survive your current situation and we manage to encounter each other again, I hope that our relationship away from the Peacekeepers will be a much different one next time."

"You cannot take a child from its mother."

Hah! Aeryn, you have grown sentimental -- if our fellow Peacekeepers captured you now, they would have no difficulty at all in making a case for 'irreparable contamination'... he thought, torn between the emotions he had learned from his family and the regulations battered into him over the years of training... "You forget," he said, "it was done to me and it was done to you. Goodbye, Officer Sun."

Both Aeryn and the Delvian cried out but he ignored them, taking Talyn deeper into the asteroid field. From his new vantage point he continued to observe and listen, discovering that first they were refusing to abandon Crichton, the Luxan, and Aeryn; then that Moya was refusing to leave her child. Pilot claimed that she feared he did not understand what he was doing by listening to Crais' orders -- and by that point the Peacekeepers were in position to block their escape...

He heard Crichton's emotional appeal to the worried Leviathan, amazed by the nobility and braveness the human displayed. There was no hidden motive in his speech; no greed, no deception. A pang of guilt made his throat close as he realized his dogged pursuit of them had led to this moment -- he could no longer claim it was orders and duty he had been following, and his personal vendetta had most likely led to the destruction of the last beings who would ever care for him...

When he saw the Leviathan go into Starburst, he felt tears stinging his eyes; and a moment later they were gone, leaving behind Aeryn in her Prowler, and Crichton and D'Argo floating helplessly in space... "Get them, Officer Sun..." he growled through his teeth, "You must get them before it is too late!"

Over the comms he heard her say, "I'm still here, but I still can't get to you."

He could hear the tension in her voice; knew that despite her training she was desperately frightened -- and then he heard Crichton's weary answer, "It may not matter. D'Argo's unconscious..."

Before his conscious mind ever registered it, he ordered, "Ship, approach Crichton and the Luxan. Evade all Prowlers!"

Talyn chirped a protest and he shook his head, "NO! Do not attempt to engage -- evade them all. We must rescue the two beings before exposure to space kills them. Talyn, you must do this -- it is the right thing. Your mother will be proud of you when she returns."

As Talyn broke cover and sped towards Crichton, Aeryn's voice came across the comms. "Crais, what the frell are you doing?!" He wondered much the same thing as the ship darted between asteroids and away from Prowlers. After a moment, he realized that the Peacekeepers were backing off, pulling back to the Command Carrier. Scorpius must have realized that Crichton will die unless he is rescued, Crais thought, concerned about what would happen later but too relieved at the moment to stop.

"Officer Sun, the Prowlers are withdrawing. Move in and make your rescue!" he ordered, knowing that they had only seconds before exposure would do too much damage.

He could see the two beings separate and knew that Crichton had also fallen unconscious. There was no time left! Even as Aeryn completed an insane and dangerous maneuver and managed to haul the hulking Luxan into the cockpit of her Prowler, Crichton's limp body tumbled away from her. They had only one last chance...

To be continued...

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