Johnny Boy finishes licking the TNT, and they go back to his room. It isn't, though. It's Aeryn's room, and she thinks of all the times she slept in Jack's bed when Jack was lost, stolen, or strayed. It's how she can recognize the signs.
She's only been in here a couple of times (and oh hey, never quite in her right mind, or sober) and it's always been a mess. She can be excused for having missed the FUCKING WIDE SCREEN TV that John unearths from beneath a pile of dirty clothes.
He never got that fucking fucktard into his dwarf space-shuttle. Fuck. Fucking fucking FUCK. He took the family car to Earth. She's in the wrong fucking universe. Fuck. Fuckalicious fuck-fuckity-fuck-fucking-fuck. With bells on. "So," she says. "You get cable? Or you want to show me where the DVDs are?"
"Sensurround," he answers as he drops backward onto the bed with a loud thud and she flinches (gonna have a bruise from that she bets), as he points to a large box just behind the television. "Ow..."
"Irresistible force, meet immovable object," she says (she's always lectured at the drop of a hat, but it was Jack who taught her the art of meaningless prattle, the magician's misdirection, verbal bait-and-switch, and pay no attention to this grenade. And she learned years ago that it isn't possible to die of a broken heart; she walks around the television to look for the box.)
It contains an interesting and eclectic selection of titles. The Star Wars movies. The Godfather Trilogy (apparently every man in America is issued these films at birth.) Some Westerns (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; The Magnificent Seven). The Monty Python movies (Cam loved those, damn him.) If you were moving to a desert island and could only take fifty movies with you, which movies would you take? She pulls out the appropriate box.
She finds the remote, puts the disk in to the television, comes back to the bed. John has scootched up to the headboard, and thumps the pillow beside him enthusiastically and invitingly. She sits down beside him (just two crazy mass murderers together) and he drapes an arm around her shoulder, making an unerring dive for the remote in the process. Yeah, he is so the all-American guy. She wonders if he played football in High School. She imagines him in some idealized American setting that she knows only from old movies, cheerleaders and letter sweaters and malt-shop dates. And that car he mentioned. She wonders what color it was. She knows (from stories Sam told, from stories Cam told) that there was always a traditional site for teenagers to go to in their vehicles to engage in recreational sex. She wonders if he went. She wonders who he went with.
Credits and fanfare and the opening roll-up. 'It is a dark time for the Rebellion...' the screen says. No fucking shit, Dani thinks. Then the spaceships appear, and she closes her eyes. She's seen this movie a dozen times, but right now, a battle just over the surface of a planet strikes a little too close to home.
Every so often, Dani gives John a glance as he watches the images on the screen eyes slitted half-shut. When their intrepid heroes are freaking out like a son of a bitch in the garbage disposal she actually chuckles and mutters, "Amateurs." She doesn't think of the fact that the last few times she'd watched the movie with Teal'c they'd begun rating the character's technique. Teal'c consistently gave them low scores in every category. The man was unforgiving.
John snores lightly in her ear and she relaxes and takes off her glasses and figures it's okay to rest her eyes for a little bit, not really going to sleep she tells herself. It's been a rough day.
Turning down the volume a few notches, she forgets the remote in her hand until someone takes it from her. Sitting up when John points the controller at the DVD player and shuts off the movie as Obi Wan is fighting Darth for the nine billion time. "I hope you don't mind, but I find this movie tiresome after seeing it so often," he states before standing and walking over to the box of DVDs and begins sifting through them.
He looks back where she's reaching where she lay her glasses. "Don't you?"
It isn't John.
The voice is higher-pitched, the cadences more formal, a trace of some accent she can't source. The body-language is entirely different. Her skin crawls with a horror she will feel until the day she dies. Goa'uld.
"Tell me your name and who you serve." It isn't until she hears herself speak that she realizes what language she's spoken in. Tongue of serpents, tongue of lies. Sure as hell isn't going to matter here, with her brain swarming with helpful bugs, and his too.
It's. It's brain.
Straightening his lean frame, John places one foot carefully in front of the other stepping away from the box and faces her. "I serve no one but I am loyal to John Crichton. I believe he has mentioned me - I am Harvey." Bowing, he gestures grandly. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Danielle Jackson," he says as he stands upright. Never taking his eyes from her, Harvey nods and takes in every inch of where she's tensed; hand resting on her gun. "You are a most interesting individual. I have been, and quite obviously I might add due to my living arrangements, observing you since your arrival and your vast library of spoken language. All of them unfamiliar to me and interesting to listen to, but there was one that has me very curious."
"What one is that?" Dani watches him, waiting to see what kind of threat he should be considered. John hadn't said this whateverthefuck this is could take over like this and she wonders if she needs to re-categorize John's threat level.
"A moment ago; it's familiar. Not all of it, but the dialect and a few of the words. It's been many cycles since I've heard it and only within the walls of the Imperium chambers."
"It's called Goa'uld."
"I am an imprint of the mind of a man known as Scorpius. Scorpius was half-Scarran, half-Sebacean. He died in Scarran space."
"Are you referring to the Scarran Imperium?"
John-Harvey inclines its head regally.
"Then what you're telling me is that the Scarrans speak Goa'uld."
"The dialect has long been forgotten by most," John-Harvey says, and it sounds for all the world like a lecturing professor, as if it's yearned all its life to have her around to explain things to. "The Scarrans speak Scarran. Unfortunately, a language that the translator microbes have a certain amount of difficulty with. No. This language that you seem to speak so fluently is an ancient ritual language of the high-caste Scarrans, preserved unchanged for thousands upon thousands of cycles."
"It's Goa'uld," she says flatly. "And yeah. It's been preserved unchanged for thousands upon thousands of cycles where I come from, too."
"How fascinating," John-Harvey says. "And you speak this language fluently?"
"Oh, like a native. My turn. I thought John didn't let you have the keys to the car. Harvey."
"I needed to speak to you of the plan to return Aeryn Sun to where she belongs and John is not exactly seeing reason at this point. I have tried but he refuses to see that what he intends will only instigate the Emperor into action or else be seen as weak and Aeryn will die most assuredly.
"Tell me about it."
"I do not typically remove John's control over his body, but I could see no other option at this point. While his mind has been more agreeable since awaking, I can tell you that you have not had as much influence as you believe." Turning back to the box, tosses the cases in his hand back into it. "Which do you prefer? Western or Comedy? I keep telling John that he has no need for these laughable space adventures when all he has to do is look outside his window." Harvey looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes. "He thinks he's hiding it from me that he only watches them now to irritate me."
"I think I'm in the mood for comedy right about now."
(She actually loathes popular culture. She could count on her fingers the number of movies she'd seen before the age of 26, and she's never owned a television set. There was one in her apartment by the end, but it belonged to Cam. Never mind; if the ghost in the machine wants to watch Monty Python, power to the virtual people.) "Hard to hide something from your interior room mate," she says. "I've known a lot of people who had them." This isn't the time to let their hair down and be girls together, though. She thinks over Harvey's last words. "Ask me if I fucking care if I can influence John or not, Harvey. I am a fucking advisor. I advise, he ignores me, nothing new there. So we all die. Game over. Sucks for Pilot and Moya - if I were them, I'd ditch us at the first stop they could. Aside from that, the Scarrans kill us and then kill Aeryn. Or we kill Aeryn and then John kills all of us. Or John kills everybody. Um... is there a variation here I've left out?"
Harvey cocks its head again, regarding her. She has the odd feeling that he can see a little more than she'd like. She wonders what Scorpius was like. "Oh, the one where the Scarrans have the weapon they're seeking. I don't believe John's shared with you the essential problem with the wormhole weapon. Are you familiar with the concept of geometric progression, my dear?"
"Sure." It's an ancient logic problem. Take a grain of rice, double the amount of rice each day, and by the end of sixty-four days, there isn't enough rice on the planet to pay up (it's an old Persian folk-tale, too.)
"Excellent. The wormhole that John creates grows by geometric progression. After a certain point, the reaction can't be stopped. At a point very shortly after that, it's larger than the entire galaxy. Then two, four, eight..."
Sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe, but geometric progression doesn't care. She can't even imagine something as big as sixty-four galaxies, and the next stop is 128.
A wormhole as big as one hundred and twenty-eight galaxies. And continuing to double.
"If the Scarrans deploy the wormhole weapon, they'll destroy the entire universe," she says slowly.
She whimpers (she doesn't want to know the things she knows). "I know why the Ancients gave John the knowledge," she says miserably.
"You do?" He seems amused that she has come to a conclusion so quickly. Dani has seen that look too many times to count.
"They mean him to use it. Or someone to take it away from him and use it. What do you have when you have a universe-sized black hole? You have a proto-mass. Usually followed by the Big Bang and twelve billion years of evolution. The Ancients have plenty of time to wait for the next iteration of life to come around - they've done it once before. And right now they're fighting a war - have been for the last fifty million years, actually - with their cousins about eleven planes of existence from here. They're losing, because their cousins have figured out how to tap living beings - like me and John and oh, anything with a pulse - to give them extra power. So hey. Why not send one human to the fucking ass-end of the universe and stick a time bomb in his brain? We're still in the only galaxy around where the Ori can't interfere directly, and once the chain reaction starts, they won't be able to stop it. Pretty soon, bye-bye extra power plant, and hello, end of the war..."
It doesn't matter if this isn't her universe. If there are Ori and Ancients here (and there must be) the war's still going on.
"So you're saying that John has simply been the pawn he has fought becoming since his arrival?" He asks, voice pitching almost to a growl.
"Probably before he was even born, maybe even manipulating his birth for this very reason."
She bursts out laughing. It explains so much.
Of course the Ascended wouldn't help them against the Ori. Why should they? They were in the process of making the universe next door safe for democracy, and didn't want to tip their hands. And of course everything John has done since the day he fell down the rabbit hole has gone toes-up. A happy man in a happy life doesn't blow up the universe. As for deciding to play James T. Kirk in the Farscape One, well... she bets he got a few nudges along the way there. And didn't he say that Bug Jack Barron said they'd stuck a library in his brain? (Yeah, sure they look like bugs, Johnny - they'd probably have looked like sparkly unicorn ponies if that was what you subconsciously expected to see.) Why would they do that, except to make sure he was well and truly sought after by the time they were ready to turn him into the full meal deal? Poor suffering bastard. He's been played from the moment the doctor said "It's a boy."
"You are also saying that Scorpius, his quest for wormholes and the destruction of the Scarrans, including my inception were merely a means in which to drive John into destroying the universe and so win the war for them," he's snarling in Scarran by the time he finishes and Dani isn't just resting her hand upon the gun, its gripped tightly and only a hair from pointing it at him - them - and pulling the trigger.
"Yup!" she says cheerfully. "Don't beat yourself up over it. You wouldn't believe the people those bastards have played.
"Hey," she says. "I've got an idea. Nobody destroys the universe. That means the Ancients have no place to run to. That means..." she stops. It's too late for her Earth. "I get revenge," she finishes quietly.
"Hmm. Now, my dear, you are speaking a language I know like the back of my hand," he chuckles and looks down at his hand, opening and closing it in a fist, "if I had one of my own that is; better amend that to 'the back of John's hand'."
"Oh, I think John's learned that language, too. Okay. If you've been in the Imperium chambers, you know more about the Scarrans than either of us. Time to earn your keep. Spill it."
She can worry about the question of how to make John see reason later. Hammering away on his weak point may do it, and she knows what that is. Aeryn. If she can present him with a plan that will Get Aeryn Back, he'll go with it. But she needs more information than she's got now. Harvey's donor-mind has not only lived among the Scarrans for years he was a double (triple? she's a little confused) agent for the Emperor, a direct report. She interrogates him on everything he can give her about Scarran culture, psychology, politics, factions, history. (He has no more idea of why they speak Goa'uld than she does - or at least preserve it as a ritual language - but he's never seen any of the things she carefully describes to him, so Goa'uld or no Goa'uld, past, present, or fuschia, the Scarrans aren't relying on Goa'uld technology.
What they are relying on - it's the basis of the entire high-caste Scarran existance - is drugs. Well, actually, if they don't get to eat a particular kind of day-lily - rare here, common as pig-tracks on Earth and thank you Cameron Mitchell for that simile - your average Scarran is nasty, brutish, and not that short, with the IQ of her end tables. Add a little flower power, and they're smart enough to rule the galaxy. More or less.
It's something. A start. She sees now that her original plan wouldn't have worked. Scarran psychology wouldn't support it. She needs to modify it. Like the Sebacean political sphere, the Scarran Empire contains a number of client races. That might be a place to start.
"Okay, Harvey," she says. "The big question, and I know John's asked you. Assume Aeryn's alive. Where do the Scarrans hold her prisoner?"
"War Minister Ahkna; she is ruthless and has for cycles steered things in the attempt to gain control of the Imperium. She knows that Emperor Staleek is not the fool as those among his counsel and will want to use Aeryn as a means to broker more power in her favor for when she eventually mounts a coup against him. She will keep her close and the War Minister is never far from the Emperor's side."
"Which leaves us asking the musical question: where's the Emperor?" (Oh god, Jack, will you shut up? She doesn't need a neural clone to have voices in her head to argue with.)
"This I do not know. He is rightfully cautious because of Ahkna and so remains aboard his flagship unless matters dictate his personal attention."
"Do you know where they grow the flowers?"
"No, I do not. The matriarchal plant's location is kept secret, only the Emperor, his closest advisors, and those caring for its safety know. And I believe there may be more than one but Scorpius never found proof of this before I was created. If he found out the answer to that question before his death, he never revealed it in John's presence."
She nods. "If my ability to go to Harvard depended on the White House Rose Garden-" (Jesus Fucking Christ, Jack, shut the fuck up already!) "-I'd have more than one. Just a couple more questions. Are there Sebacean bounty hunters operating in Scarran space? And can one or the other of you teach me enough to pass for one?"
"What is it that you have in mind?" Harvey asks warily.
She smiles. "If the answer to those two questions is 'yes,' well, I figure John blows up a few systems nobody will miss, and then I capture him and sell him to Emperor Staleek in person."
It's the only thing that will work. Can't play 'chicken' with a snake. Or a lizard.
It will help if John can trigger his doomsday weapon even while he's groveling at the Emperor's feet. But if not, hey. They'll improvise.
With John standing at the Emperor's feet, the Scarrans either need to trot out Aeryn in order to put the screws on, or admit they don't have her to trot out. Either way, they move on to the next step: fighting their way out (or not) and blowing the place the fuck up.
And she decides (then) whether to kill John (if Aeryn's dead) before he can take the universe down with him. Whose revenge trumps whose?
A question for another time.
"You look pale," she says to John-not-John. "Did you forget to read the fine print where it says I'm a suicidal masochist with a god complex?"
And John hisses. He hisses. "I have had more than enough of that from this human without needing another one of you! I'd thought you were going to be reasonable!"
"Harvey," she says gently, "I'm going to get Aeryn back for John and then I'm going to kill myself. Is that reasonable enough for you? I'm going to get Aeryn back in the way that will work best, and the way that John will let me use. That's the bottom line. After that, you'll never have to look at me again."
He looks at her with pure shock; with the news or the fact that she's going to do it at all, she can't tell. "I'm sure that both John and Aeryn would be more than happy to have you remain here with them."
"Are you wanting me to stay, after just saying you didn't need another one like John around?"
"Well... you seem intelligent enough to provide some entertainment on occasion, something that is sorely lacking on this ship and I wouldn't want it to go to waste."
"You're sweet on me!" She knows that its nothing of the sort but she's enjoying fucking with the guy.
She shakes her head. "Harvey. I killed twelve billion people. It was my job to keep the monsters away. Nobody else's. Just mine. I failed." She shrugs. "Enjoy me while you can."
Nodding, Harvey holds up two movie cases. "Dirty Dancing or Adventures in Babysitting?"
"Never seen either one."
"Adventures in Babysitting it is then," he answers almost cheerfully and put the disc into the player, "I'm sure you'll find it most amusing." Harvey reaches into a small plastic case and brings out two brown bottles and twists off the lids. Handing her one of them, he sits down next to her and presses the play button. "Plus I'm sure you'll find it beneficial for when you finally meet Chiana."
Taking a drink from the bottle, Dani immediately spits it back out and glares at him. "Jesus, you gave me a fucking root beer? I thought you were handing me a real beer!" Smirking, Harvey says, "Don't you know how to read, Danielle?" and takes a drink from his own.
"Oh, god, I'm so fucking glad you aren't in my... wait. How the hell am I going to meet Chiana? Isn't she dead? John said the rest of Moya's passengers had all been killed." She wishes to fuck any two people here on the Voyage of the Damned would tell her the same thing two conversations running.
"John believes she is dead but he did not find her body despite the amount of her blood she lost. No, until I see more proof, I will believe that she is still alive. I am somewhat torn between wishing that she escaped completely and hoping that she is with Aeryn Sun to help stave off any possible battles with heat delirium that may occur from prolonged torture or mind manipulation."
"Nnnnngh," Dani says, and drinks her (fucking) root beer. Now she has to get Pilot to tell her everything he knows about (oh what the hell was it?) Nebari. So she'll know Chiana when she sees her. "Special offer, one day only," she mutters. "Two rescues for the price of one."
"So have you figured out a Plan B yet?" he asks as some little blond twit begins singing into her hairbrush about going to the chapel and getting married. What is this, a documentary on how to make sure morons don't reproduce?
"In case which part of this terrifically well-thought-out plan goes wrong?" she asks.
"Exactly. As John has said in the past: the first rule of piss-poor planning... have your exit ready before your entrance."
She snickers. "Well, I've covered the part about how if Aeryn's brainwashed to kill John - been there, done that, ate the fucking t-shirt - and I'm working on how to get John out if Aeryn isn't there at all. I'm figuring it'll take a little work to come up with a fake control collar for Moya that'll pass muster as the real thing, but hey. We're an inventive bunch. I don't know if you guys have cloaking devices or space mines here, but I know you have small spaceships and explosives. At the very least, we steal a bunch of small spaceships, turn them into large bombs, drop them around on our way in on timers. The explosions should cover our retreat. I also think we should bring the Emperor another present - since we aren't letting him keep John. Two or three quarts of aphids should do nicely. Aphids just love lillies..."
Harvey dips his head, impressed. "Remind me to tell John to never piss you off."
"You have no idea of how many times our missions started out screwed and went to goatfuck, Harvey. No idea."
"I've seen John's memories of listening to officers telling stories at the various bases his father served from and I have a fairly certain picture of what can occur. Plus, I have lived within John for over three cycles. I've grown accustomed to plans going 'goatfuck'."
"Great," she says. "You can bring the potato salad."
She endures the idiocy on-screen in silence as long as she can (five minutes) before saying something. "Is John going to know you were out? And are you expecting me to keep it a secret? Because I'll tell you right now, fella, when guys beat me up, it's usually my idea. Okay: some of the time."
"I think it would be best if John remained unaware of our discussion. If only for his peace of mind - such as it is," he answers and she can tell that he's judging her reaction just as she is.
She nods. "I won't lie to him. But I won't volunteer the information, either. So if he doesn't ask me a direct question, your secret's safe. That's the best I can offer."
"That is an agreeable arrangement, Danielle."
"Good. Lying to crazy people just upsets them, you know. They always guess." She always guessed.
"I know he's crazy, you know," she adds softly. Hey, just in case Harvey hasn't gotten the memo.
He laughs. "Well I should hope so considering the neon sign that John has hanging over his head."
"Although... people trying to kill me has generally been regarded as a sign of their sanity. Has been for years," she points out, just to be perverse.
"This is very true, but I have known of some species that do that as foreplay." Harvey is giving her a mischievous look and she wonders if that last comment was bait to lead her into a long discussion. Not that she could blame him considering that the only person he has to speak with is John. Just being around the man as the almost sole means for conversation in the little time she's been here is already about to drive her batshit.
She smiles back, hard-edged and mocking and flirtatious. "I've met some species that tried to do that to me as foreplay," she says. "You develop a taste for it after a while." She's done as much information gathering and planning as she can do right now, and anything is better than Earth popular culture. Even playing games with a backup program on John's hard drive.
"Now you have gotten me curious. Care to explain?"
"Hm, oh... the Goa'uld are a parasitic life-form that can infest and possess a variety of other species. When they do, they gain access to all their host's memories. They had a tendency to pick my old boyfriends as hosts. Not that the Goa'uld didn't want me anyway. Sam and I opened the Stargate and walked out into the universe and started killing them. Big bounty. Yeah, um, okay, so... aside from the Goa'uld... if I've got a "romantic type" it just kind of seems to be "homicidal alien" - you know the kind, right? Captures you, tortures you, says he'll make you his queen - or whatever the local equivalent is - a little more torture, some threats. Fun times. I tell you, it kind of made dinner and a movie pale by comparison." Not that this is exactly the truth, because she's never been on a 'dinner-and-a-movie' date in her entire life. Not once.
"I am well aware of the type, used to be one if you hadn't been told, John has the same proficiency in their attraction as you it seems. Commandant Grayza in particular. Her tastes are one of the more well known dirty secrets among the High Council.
"Hm." She chews on her lower lip, thinks about the sex she had with John. "He didn't develop a taste for it." So not a stretch.
Harvey leans in close and whispers, "He held himself back. It took everything within him to keep from seriously harming you."
Her eyes flicker. "Too bad," she says. Suddenly it's hard to breathe.
"Are you sure you want to allow yourself to go there," he runs his - John's - fingers along the edge of her jaw, "Danielle? It's a dangerous place if you become lost."
"I was lost a long time ago," she answers steadily. She thinks of Ra's cool metal-clad fingers stroking her cheek, ripping the pendant from around her neck. She thinks of a room beneath a mountain, another Goa'uld telling her, don't close your eyes.
Yes. She was lost a long time ago.
"Just don't do anything that will hurt him," she says.
It isn't that John is her salvation. No. He's her penance. She won't let anything keep her from paying.
He moves back and takes a drink from his bottle and nods once in agreement. "I wouldn't dream of it. My life and his are one and the same, so I do what I must - when I have the ability - to see that he remains unharmed. Since we have come to an agreement of sorts; I have done all that can to keep John safe. I dare to say that he would be far more insane if I were not around."
"That would be a shame," she says. She's not sure whether she's being ironic or not. John crazier would be John already dead, wouldn't it? Probably. Problem solved. She'd never have met him, she'd have no idea that the Scarrans have Aeryn and would be putting her into a blender to extract the blueprints for a Doomsday Device (the science sounds like voodoo to her, but then, a lot of science does). She'd probably be dead. She suspects she's here because the Ascended are stacking the deck. Or maybe the Ori sent her here to save the princess, save the world. Oh, there's a thought to ensure she never sleeps again.... "I just hope he listens to you better than - from what you say - he listens to me."
"I wouldn't wager on that horse."
"What do you do in there, in is head, anyway... watch old movies?"
"In a manner of speaking." Harvey looks pleased that she's asked.
Well, she knows he likes to explain things. She suspects its an artifact of his (when did she stop thinking of Harvey as 'it' and start thinking of Harvey as 'him'?) original programming: John said he was supposed to gather and deliver information, and that ship has sailed, but Harvey still has the instinct to provide information, even though there's nobody to provide it to.
"Here in John's mind - such as it is - I can see and hear what he sees and hears, of course. Very boring, most of the time. On occasion, I can even eavesdrop on his actual - and here I use the term very loosely - thought processes. But what I do have full access to - and a wonderful thing it is, Danielle! - is John's memories! Oh, such a rich treasure-trove of experience! Ice cream, and girls, and soft summer nights... every movie he's seen, ever book he's read... things he's long forgotten... all there for me to wander through, as fresh as the day he first experienced them."
"So... John's brain is a virtual reality suite for you?" she says slowly.
Nodding, Harvey gives her a wide grin. "Yes. Including his porn collection. It has provided me with a wonderful education."
His smile is sunshine and razors (not like John's smiles - she's begun to catalogue them, almost automatically; not like Cam's smiles - an infinite vocabulary there as well, from furious to genuinely delighted) and she feels a desperate wild desire in the pit of her stomach, a need that she will not (cannot) indulge, and she thinks of the man (creature?) who was Harvey's template, and she cannot keep her mind still enough to quench the sudden wild fantasy of standing before him as his prisoner.
"I'm terrified to even imagine what that says about the sex lives of either Scarrans or Sebaceans," she says, forcing her voice to a mocking drawl.
"You humans... even your pornography is romantic," Harvey says.
She's pretty sure that a guy like Scorpius would know how to show a girl like her a good time.
She finishes the rootbeer. Sugary and warm. For just an instant the fantasy surfaces (like primordial Goa'uld out of the lake of their birth-planet) and she imagines slamming the bottle against the wall, breaking it, driving the jagged end into his neck. Or hers. When the fantasies grew strong, grew persistent, Cam would beat them out of her (never knew that was what he was doing, offered up what he offered out of love and his own need). And Cam isn't here. Cam is dead. She sets the bottle on the nearest available flat surface. Her hand shakes just a little.
Harvey puts a hand on her knee while she's twisted away from him. "I'm cheap, but I'm not easy," she snaps, not even bothering to look.
"Nothing worth having is easy, Danielle," he answers. His voice is mild, but his eyes gleam. John's eyes are blue (Cam's eyes were blue). Harvey's eyes manage to be dark and feral, even though Harvey isn't really here at all.
"Was there something you were thinking of having?" she asks. Strike and counter-strike, parry and thrust. Chess is war turned into a bloodless game. She was a nationally-ranked player once upon a time.
Harvey smiles, the barest twitch of lips. "It would be rude of me to refuse what you've been so consistently offering, I believe."
"I believe you're mistaken," she answers, her tone a crushing dismissal.
Harvey reaches out and grabs her wrist. "I am so rarely mistaken," he answers.
His grip is crushing. He is - John is - stronger than she is. Not a shock: nearly all men are. But either Harvey is somehow stronger than John (not, actually, impossible) or he's willing to use more strength against her than John is. The bones in her wrist grind together. White fire radiates up to her elbow and down to her fingertips. Another few ounces of pressure and he'll break bones. She thinks he could. He doesn't.
"John," she says warningly. John Crichton is the touchstone, the no-fly zone: no matter what she wants, no matter what she needs, no matter what games Harvey wants to play, they're going to leave John out of them. Her voice is perfectly even, but her pulse is racing, and it's an effort to keep from licking her lips. She knows her pupils have dilated with arousal, because the room suddenly looks brighter. Harvey will have seen it. She doesn't think Cam ever knew to look for it, at least back at the beginning. Maybe later.
"John and I don't share everything," Harvey says lightly. "I find that retaining a few secrets keeps freshness and spice in a long-term relationship. I feel confident to assume that you do as well."
She takes a deep breath. It's an effort. "You bought me a soda and we went to the movies. Why don't you walk me home?"
This time his smile is genuine. But it's still as cold.
Moya is huge, and there's plenty of space. Despite that, John gave her quarters on the same tier as his. A fucking pain in the ass, since that means they have to listen to each other scream at night. She'd ask to move, but somehow it takes too much energy. "Do you know," Harvey says, as they walk (strolling along side-by-side, a boy and his girl out on a soda date at the end of the world), "I have Scorpius' memories of course, and access to John's, but this will the first time I've done this ... myself."
She snorts rudely. "I promise I'll be gentle."
"I won't be," Harvey says, and his voice is mild, and she feels the chill of promise radiating off his skin as if somebody's just opened a door to ... somewhere.
Her quarters are Spartan. All she owns are the clothes on her back, her new 'glasses' (left in John's quarters, just as well), and a zap gun that apparently runs on alien piss. And she's decided to fuck an alien computer program for shits and giggles while waiting for the most auspicious day to kill herself. (Her life has actually been stranger.)
She never bothers to close the door (what would be the point?) She walks inside, automatically taking the half step back, half step sideways so Harvey won't be behind her. "What do you-?" she starts to ask, turning to face him.
He grabs her shoulder and slams her into the bulkhead hard enough to stun her.
She comes back fighting and swearing (oh yes make me make me). He slaps her across the face hard enough to make her stagger, his face set in a delighted sneer. "Poor soft arrogant creature," he says. "I could almost pity you."
All she does is growl.
He grabs her throat, grip firm but doesn't squeeze just yet.
Dani struggles, but can feel something slide - just the barest sliver - just enough - she thinks if she closes her eyes that she could pretend that it's Cam with his hand around her throat because this is something she knows and no one else is supposed to know this about this side. It makes her struggle harder, pushing back, forcing him to tighten his fingers just a bit more.
"When I first saw you, even filtered through John's own thoughts, I knew there was something I recognized. You remind me of someone that Scorpius knew intimately, she taught him many things in his first monens of freedom," he says quietly, moving closer, never taking his eyes from hers, "Many, many things…" He slowly licks a stripe from the tip of her nose to forehead. "Things I am sure you will find to your liking."
She thinks no and I won't and the back of her mind is screaming at her that he needs to let go of her so that she can kneel....
She forgets completely about the necessity of not leaving marks on John's body that will be impossible to explain come the morning. She snaps at him, then tries to head-butt him. The hand at her throat stops her. She grabs the forearm (leverage) lifts herself off the floor, hooks her leg behind his calf. It's a piss-poor position to try a shoulder-throw from, and they almost never work against a taller opponent anyway.
She has to try.
All she succeeds in doing is setting herself up to be lifted off the deck and pressed against the bulkhead. Not thrown this time. He's pushing her against it with all his strength, just as his fingers are tightening expertly against her throat: cutting off the flow of blood to her brain, cutting off the flow of air to her lungs. Her legs are tangled with his, and she doesn't have room to kick, even if she could while she's graying out.
"I so admire spirit in a woman," he says, his breath hot in her ear. Her breasts are pressed painfully against his chest.
At the moment she's just about to lose consciousness he releases her and steps back, and in the moment that she staggers, gasping for air, he spins her around and forces her against the bulkhead again. Now they're pressed together back to front; she has to turn her head sideways in order to breathe, and he has both her wrists clasped in one of his hands. They're locked behind her back and he's forcing them up (Cam). Doing that should push her upper body forward, but she's pressed against the bulkhead. There's nowhere for it to go. Strain in her shoulders, across her back, in wrists and elbows, and she writhes, trying to find some way to take the pressure off, and there isn't any.
"Women are so very lovely in the moment just before they begin to beg," he says, stroking her cheek with his free hand.
"And you are. You want to, I can see it even with these weak human eyes. Are you going to beg for me, my sweet Danielle?"
She shakes her head. No. Not yet. He chuckles approvingly, and takes a half-step backward. It's neither escape for her, nor release.
Her heart is beating hard enough to shake her now. Thought is only possible in between the beats. The thought that Harvey is stronger than John, to be dead-lifting her one-handed. The thought that she fought him all this time without thinking once of her pulse-pistol, because she only remembers it when the holster hits the floor. The thought that the end of this is inevitable.
The thought that the pain is glorious.
By the time the palm of his hand slides up her torso, she's breathing in deep, open-throated gasps. Her body is a sheet of fire from the back of her neck to her waist. He cups one breast in his hand. Her nipples are achingly hard. His fingers close around the nipple and pull, pinching and twisting. Not with all his strength, but with enough.
The world goes white. Her body jerks and shudders helplessly, beyond her control. She arches upward and back, her head pressed against his shoulder. The words he wants to hear - the words she needs to say - are torn from her throat.
"Please! Oh - god - please!"
He releases her at once and steps back, but she can't stand. She drops to her knees, to all fours, to her elbows when her hands won't support her. She's sweating and shaking, and the world is blurred, but she can see his boots, and she crawls toward them. When she reaches them, she simply presses her cheek against the top of one and lies there, eyes closed.
He moves his foot away, and she catches herself before trying to follow it. Instead she rests it against the cold floor, waiting until he orders to not move and she breathes out slowly. Pleased that she did the right thing; calling herself weak in the same breath.
She wants him to praise her (Danielle is Cameron's good girl; Cameron is dead; who will take care of Danielle now?), she doesn't need anyone (Dani has always been alone), she hates him (she hates herself). She ought to let John destroy the whole fucking universe: that would serve everybody right.
She listens as he steps away, only as far as her bed and she can hear the slide of the gold sheet as he pulls it off. He doesn't return to her for several seconds and she can't tell if the tremors in her body are from anticipation or the fucking freezing surface that's sending shockwaves through her where her bare breasts are pressed against it.
"Lift your head," the order is quiet and she's not surprised when he lowers the sheet, twisted into a rope, below her chin to rest it against her throat. He loops each end around her arms, pulling them closer together and her shoulders scream fucking murder as he ties the ends together.
He lifts her to her feet with both a casual disregard of how much it hurts, and careful care that she doesn't fall and actually hurt herself.
She doesn't want to anticipate what it's going to feel like at the moment when she goes down onto her back on the bed.
"There," he says with matter-of-fact satisfaction. "I feel that this will allow us to eliminate at least a few of the tedious preliminaries."
She doesn't lift her head at the sound of his voice. (It isn't proper. Yes. No. Yes. Oh, god, she's had spectacularly stupid ideas in her life, but playing this game with a fucking alien who doesn't know the rules, who doesn't know how to lead her out of it again, has to be the stupidest ever.)
He puts a hand on her jaw and lifts her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. "You are truly someone's masterwork, my dear child. It saddens me deeply that I am not in a position to offer you asylum. Still! We make do with the materials at hand, don't we? Now. Kindly oblige me by removing the rest of your clothes. We have a great deal to accomplish before morning."
It is not all that easy to get out of a pair of boots and a pair of leather pants when she can't either lift her arms or lower them without strangling herself. She not only manages, she manages it gracefully and without ever turning her back on Harvey (on her master, her mind insists, and she's trying not to listen). It's a point of pride. A stranger, seeing her, wouldn't think Danielle had any pride left. Cameron always knew that she took pride in her service. In her submission.
When she's naked, she presents herself again. She isn't precisely certain what he wants now, so she waits to be told. "You have such lovely skin," he says, tracing fingertips over her body. Over the fading marks of her recent bruises. Over the marks of tonight's bruises.
She knows it's lovely. She came back from the dead less than two weeks ago: her skin is always beautiful then.
He runs his lips across her shoulders and back. "To mark or not mark, that is the question," he breathes (hot, so hot against her skin. contrasting from the frigidness air of the room) against her skin.
When she doesn't answer, Dani can feel his mouth widen as he raises his head, biting where her shoulder and neck met. He does it slowly as his hands continue to touch, gauging her responses.
He's marked her, nothing permanent, but the result is the same. She belongs to him.
She's doing her best not to move, to be quiet (Danielle is supposed to be still and silent, except when Cameron tells her otherwise), but she can feel that her entire body is quivering, trembling, shudders so fast and fine-tuned that they wouldn't be visible from a few feet away. Only Harvey isn't a few feet away. He's touching her, he can feel the tremors of her body through the palms of his hands (John's hands).
The hands that feel almost like Cameron's.
He moves around her slowly, touching every single inch that he can; taking inventory because she is his property.
She pulls at the binding around her wrists. (Cameron.) A simple exercise in engineering. (Cameron.) It's tied around her arms. (Cameron.) It's looped around her throat. (Cameron.) If she lowers her arms, it tightens around her throat. (She wants Cameron!)
Her throat is bruised. The fabric presses against the bruises. (Her collar is gone.) Hands on her body. She keeps her eyes cast downward.
Just as he's back behind her, his arms encircle her pulling her against him. She can feel the heat of his body, the press of his erection through the leather pants against her ass; he slides one hand between her legs and she can feel as he's slips the tip of a finger inside her. Only for a moment before the hand retreats and he's lifting it up. Dani expects him to trail them up her stomach but he doesn't and in her mind she can feel the ghost of a touch as he rests his chin against her shoulder and brings his hand to his mouth, lick and tasting her. "So sweet; better than I remember."
Who remembers? She needs to know (somehow it's vital) but she can't think clearly enough, and somewhere lost and tangled in all of this is the insane idea that Cameron is here (somewhere) and Cameron is remembering and if somehow she looks hard enough and far enough she can find him but she doesn't even know where to begin.
Oh, god. She needs someone to tell her what to do Jack? Simon? Nick? Daddy? There's nobody home…
The universe is already empty. The stars went out while she wasn't looking. (They always said that. Bad girls have to stay in the dark forever.) She's the last one here.
He'd said - he told someone (who?) - that John had been gentle (with whom?) There's no gentleness here, and that's good. She needs to feel.
Bite-marks across her shoulders, down her arms, over her breasts, along her thighs. The purpling bruises of deep gouging pinches, long scarlet furrows where fingertips have dug into her skin and been dragged. Her lips are swollen and bitten with kisses; there's the taste of blood in her mouth.
Her entire body burns with pain. Beaten. Cherished. Claimed. No matter how cruel his hands are, the few words he speaks to her are not. He tells her she is beautiful.
She doesn't know when he leaves. She slips into a sleep without dreams, and when she wakes up, he isn't there.
The sheet that bound her has been removed. It covers her. So does a blanket.
She's slept so deeply that she's languid and disoriented; she rolls over and hisses in surprise. Everything aches. She sits up carefully, taking inventory. Spent and soiled. Broken and bruised and used and lamed.
She gets to her feet and walks - carefully - into the bathroom. This tier (John said) was Senior Officers' Quarters, once upon a time: the cabins are bigger and they have attached bathrooms.
There's writing on the mirror. "For quicker healing," the letters say. They're both precise and odd looking, as if whoever put them there has never written English before. She wipes off the mirror with one of the makeshift towels she keeps in here. All the bathrooms are designed to be completely fabric-free, and she's always hated hot-air hand dryers in restrooms; she doesn't care how sanitary they are.
The note explains the jar. The jar contains a salve. She cleans up, then applies it to every mark on her body she can reach. Trying to lift her arms high enough to reach her shoulders and neck hurts like fuck. There's a time and a place for pain, and the time was last night. When the need for it passes, she can't imagine ever needing it again. Like getting up from the table too full of food to even be comfortable. But you're always hungry again sooner or later. She will be.
Maybe they'll find Aeryn Sun - or definitively not find Aeryn Sun - before that time comes.
She really hopes so, because she can't do this again. It's too dangerous. Harvey says it's loyal to John, but she doesn't know if she believes what it's telling her. And even if that's true, John is batshit crazy, so in that case, what does loyalty mean? Will Harvey do what John wants, or what John needs, because Dani's already gotten ample proof that the two things are very different.
She's not sure which she'll do at any given moment. A little of each, probably. Just like always, and Sam - back when Sam still loved her, back when Sam was still alive - delivered endless lectures (mainly to the walls, though in Dani's presence) about how absent friends should be their own person, never considering for a moment that Dani was the one most in need of Sam's elevating discourse. Because Dani's spent her entire life doing what other people want, and it really doesn't matter if those other people were dead at the time (like Mommy and Daddy) or didn't suspect that was what she was doing (like Jack); she still did it. Who the hell is Dani Jackson, anyway? She has no idea. She's always been too busy to find out.
Cam was the first person who ever wanted to know (Jack was always sure he knew; she's afraid he did). She thinks she might have found an answer for him eventually. She isn't sure whether or not the thought frightens her. (Frightened her when it was still something that was possible.) At least John will never ask. John lives in a universe built for two (and Baby makes three), and Aeryn Sun is lost-stolen-strayed.
She walks carefully back out into her bedroom, finally noticing that the door is shut and the privacy curtain drawn (why the officers' cabins would have the same kind of doors as the prison cells she doesn't fucking know - for all she knows, they aren't officer's cabins at all, and half the prisoners here on the SS Botany Bay had en suite accommodations) and begins the long careful (painful) process of getting dressed. She's just pulling on her second boot (her shoulders hurt less the more she uses them, but there isn't going to be much about today that will be fun) when there's a shadow against the curtain outside.
"Knock, knock, anybody home?" John.
"Yeah," she says, straightening up. "Come on in."
The door slides open a couple seconds before the curtain parts, he hesitates; embarrassed or waiting for ambush, it's hard to tell because she can't see his face where it's hidden in the shadow of the curtain.
Finally he steps through, hand falling to rest on his hip, immediately dropping his eyes before they can lock on hers. John's still stammering out an apology when he looks back up, eyes widening when he notices the bruise on her neck. "Look - I just… Fuck."
Scoffing, she stands and faces him. "You wish."
"I did that."
"No," she says, telling the truth before she thinks lying might be more practical.
If she'd ever really been practical, she wouldn't be here now.
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