For those that haven't read these snips before, this is an AU set during the 3rd season.
Basic summery of this part: John's having a hard time dealing with Johnny's disabilities. (it's been too damn long since i posted one of these.)
"Stop moving or you'll cut yourself, dammit!" John yelled, grabbing Johnny's shoulders to stop his fidgeting movements. Once they ended, John picked up the straight razor. "Okay, we're going to try this again. Hold...still."
Aeryn watched for a few more microts before turning to begin repairs on the damaged control node on the hangar door. Suddenly a scream of pain erupted behind her and she heard John scream. "Dammit, Johnny...I told you…to hold still!"
Running back into the room, Aeryn saw John throwing objects off the shelf while Johnny sat crying on a chair beside the basin, blood running down his chin. "What happened?"
"He started playing around as I was shaving him and the razor nicked him.," John said angrily, as he found a large rag and placed it on Johnny's chin.
"I told you to quit frelling playing around, and now look at you. You need to start listening to me." His voice continued to rise in anger.
"John...why don't you take on the repairs in the hangar? I'll finish up here."
Gazing at Johnny's tear streaked face, Aeryn said, "Yes, I'm unsure of the proper connections."
John stared at her with surprise before nodding his head and glancing down at the other. "Hold this on tight so the bleeding will stop," he said as he took Johnny's hand and made him press the pad to his bleeding face.
"Ouch, th...that hurts."
John pressed his lips together in a rare show of annoyance.
"John, the repairs...hangar."
"Yeah, but be careful. He doesn't like to sit still for very long,” he advised sharply.
"Like you do?" she responded. Aeryn watched as John ignored the remark and stomped out of the room.
Her attention turned to Johnny sitting sadly in the chair, Aeryn smiled at him encouragingly. “Let me take a look at that and then we will finish what John started.” Taking the cloth from his hand, Aeryn examined the wound a moment.
“It hurts bad.” Johnny reached up to touch the cut, but pulled back just before making contact with the torn skin and let out a quiet whimper.
“That isn’t very deep…” Reaching for a skin sealant, Aeryn kept her focus on Johnny. “This will sting a bit, but it will make that go away faster.”
Johnny gave the jar in her hand a quick glance. “Blow on it to make it feel better?”
“Blow…on it.” Nodding in agreement, she wondered if she would ever become accustomed to the strange things both men continued to say.
As Aeryn applied the sealant, Johnny let out a hiss of pain, and she automatically began blowing on the wound. Feeling ridiculous, Aeryn continued when she saw that it seemed to bring him some kind of comfort, even if it was for a microt.
She felt Johnny’s hand as he reached up and began to run his fingers through her hair. It was strange, but she could tell a difference even within these simple movements, of how differently this man now thought. Before there was, not really purpose, but desire within his touch. Now, she couldn’t explain it even to herself, but there was something carefree as his fingers brushed through the strands of hair. Her attention straying, Aeryn didn’t realize that Johnny had began to hum as he played.
Leaning back, she asked, “Feel better?”
Johnny looked at her and smiled before focusing back on her hair, lifting it up and letting it fall slowly through his fingers. She was surprised when he asked, “Why you call Daddy my name?”
It took Aeryn a couple of microts to think about it, but finally she replied, “Well…I like your name very much, and so does your father, so we decided to call him by your name too.”
The glossy strands fell from his hand as he laughed at the idea. “You’re silly…”
She smiled back at him. “Yes, I am. Now let’s see about cleaning up your face, so you can go eat.”
Aeryn heard the banging long before she reached the hangar. Entering the room, she saw a crate fly through the air and crash against the side of the second module and fall to the floor with several others. "Do you feel better yet?"
Jaw clenched, John regarded her briefly as he picked up another crate and threw it, staggering with the effort. "I can't do it...he's so damn helpless now. I thought maybe...maybe he would start to learn things again, but he'll be like this for the next thirty…forty cycles. He can't remember half the things we tell him. Do you realize he's gotten lost five times within the last two weekens? I've had to...I'm just…frustrated.” Despair and worry creasing his face, he slumped against the module.
Her shoulders tensed as she crossed her arms. “What do you want to do? Leave him somewhere he’ll be safe? How long do you believe that will last?”
Turning his head, he looked at her silently, his eyes bleak.
Aeryn couldn’t believe what John’s silence implied. She knew that his uncertainty had grown over the past weekens, but the thought of leaving the other Crichton behind in this condition was unbearable.
“He is ‘you‘…the Peacekeepers still have wanted beacons active in most sectors.”
John laid his head back against the module. “I would never leave him. I just…don’t know how to take care of him. He doesn’t understand anything…and what he does, he forgets after only a few days.” The weariness of four cycles of impossible decisions welled up in his voice.
Coming up behind John and wrapping her arms around his waist, Aeryn rested her head against his back. “I don’t know what to tell you, this is just as new and disturbing to me as well, but we will figure it out together.”
Turning around, John returned the comforting embrace that Aeryn offered him. It felt hollow to him though, as Aeryn’s question of whether he wanted to leave Johnny someplace safe still echoed in his mind. She had verbalized what he himself had considered numerous times over the past three monens, but he had continually pushed the thought away.
It was one of several troublesome ideas that plagued him at various times. The most prominent being, it could have been him instead. John controlled a shiver before it passed through him. If he had been the one left on Moya, this could…no, ‘would’ have been his fate.
The very idea of being reduced so much in mind and identity terrified him beyond words. Although he had tried hard to hide it, John couldn’t help the fear and anger that welled up within him. Unfortunately, it seemed to find an outlet within the other John…the newly reborn Johnny Robert Crichton, whose only problems these days seemed to be remembering his way from his quarters to the galley and back. Those were the moments when John actually envied him.
The majority of the time, though, John couldn’t help but selfishly let out a sigh of relief that it had been the other guy instead of him.
Brushing his lips against Aeryn’s forehead, John’s mind wandered back to another time. A time when they both reveled in the freshness of their newly declared love for one another. Neither thought of their friends, of the other guy when they spoke of going to Earth after leaving Dam Ba Da. All they cared about was the fact that Jack had opened up the knowledge within him, and he now knew the way home. They were going home together.
The small amount of tension that had evaporated at Aeryn’s touch returned instantly at the thought of what they had almost done. He felt Aeryn’s arms tighten around him in response.
“What is it?”
“Remember our plans? When we began to head down to Dam Ba Da’s surface.”
Her arms dropped to her sides as she took a small step back. “Do you still want to go to Earth? Can you get him help back on your homeworld?
With a slight shake of his head, John leaned back against the module. “If we went back home, I doubt the military would see him more than just a liability. More than likely he’d end up in some government institution. But no, there is no help for something like this on Earth. Either he’ll be medicated up to his eyeballs or scared out of his mind from being around strangers.”
“Then what is the problem, John?”
“I can’t help but think that we almost left them, ‘him’, behind without a single thought as to whether he wanted to go home.”
He could see the realization of his words darken her eyes. “We didn’t know what had happened to him or the others. We also thought he was only a clone. John, you’re only blaming yourself up over things that we could not of known at the time.”
Rubbing the fading scar on his temple, John stepped away from Aeryn and the module and began to pace back and forth. “You’re right. At the time I thought he was a fake, that it didn’t matter one way or the other. He wasn’t the real John Crichton, and he didn’t deserve to go back to Earth.”
Stopping, John kept his back to Aeryn. “But we were wrong. He’s just as real as I am, and we almost left him to die without a single thought.”
His shoulders slumped further. Suddenly John felt very tired, as if everything he had just said weighed him down more than he could stand. Aeryn’s touch on his shoulder was like a knife cutting through the dark that seemed to surround him and his thoughts. Turning into her sharp blade made something of what he felt bleed out and away as touched her forehead to his own. He drew in a quiet, grateful breath and, for the moment, let her strength flow into him.
“What did Johnny do after I left? I didn’t scare him too badly, did I?” he asked, keeping his head against Aeryn’s.
Aeryn didn’t move when she spoke, her voice rumbling softly. “He did very well actually, but he kept telling me he was sorry for being a bad boy.”
“He always thinks he’s done something wrong.”
“I guess that was something that was always within you. Although I should let you know he asked why we called you by his name.”
“He did? What did you tell him?”
Smiling, Aeryn said, “I told him that we both liked his name so much, you wanted your name to be John too.”
John laughed at the simple explanation she had given Johnny. He had been wondering if and when the question would come up, but he was glad that he had not fielded that one.
“Where is he now?” John asked, stepping away from her and turning towards the hangar door. “I need to have a talk with him and apologize.”
“In the galley with Stark. I felt I had to find you and see if you had calmed down.” Catching up to him, they left the hangar together.
Once in Talyn’s corridors, John’s step quickened. “Well…let’s go before they end up trashing the place with their dinner.”
“You never did adequately explain to me the real purpose of a food fight.”
“Relieves tension…” John said, shrugging his shoulders. “…and it’s fun.”
Slowly placing the small piece of bread in his mouth, Stark watched Johnny use his eating utensil to stir a bowl of broth and humming a soft tune. For some reason he couldn’t really identify, whenever he was around this Crichton, he felt at peace. A peace he hadn’t felt since before Zhaan sacrificed herself for them all.
It was almost as if she were reaching out to him through Johnny. To let him know that she is not far away, and that he can still find her.
Jumping at the sound of the voice, Stark glanced over at the other man. “What?”
“You want some my soup? Rin gave it to me. I can share…” Johnny didn’t wait for his answer, but instead picked up his miniature land craft and bowl. Spilling some of the liquid as he stood.
“You don’t have to give me any of your food, there is plenty. I’m sure there is plenty.”
“But you look hungry when you were looking at me, and I’m pose to share,” he said putting down his things. Reaching back over the table, he picked up his cup and drained the last of the contents before pouring some of his meal into the container and splashing half of it onto the table.
“Oops…” Finished, Johnny placed the cup in front of Stark and smiled. “There. Now you don’t have to eat that stinky bread. I don’t like it. It ‘mells like our doggie when he gets wet.”
“Thank you, Johnny.”
Johnny’s giving nature was not that much different than when they had first met. Only now, he held none of the harshness acquired over the time he had lived in this part of the galaxy. For one to be so full of life, and free of spirit was rare blessing that the other Crichton did not see.
Stark could feel the hostility and fear pour off of Crichton whenever the two of them were in the same room, and he wished that the Human would see what a gift he had been given in his brother.
He noticed a fresh cut on Johnny’s face as he tipped up the bowl and began to drink from it, the skin red and irritated, but he could see that it had been well treated and would be gone in a matter of days.
“Does it hurt?” Johnny asked him as he placed the bowl back down upon the table.
“Does what hurt?”
Johnny moved even closer to him, and placed his hand on Stark’s mask. “This? How come you don’t have a regular face?”
He should have realized what the man-child had been referring to. The question had become a frequent one over the past several weekens, the answer sometimes forgotten as quickly as it was spoken.
“No, it doesn’t hurt. I was born this way, and so that made me special to my people. I was about to ask you the same thing.” Softly touching the small injury, he asked, “How did you hurt yourself?”
Johnny placed his fingers on top of his own and traced the cut and shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. Is it a big owie?” His eyes filled with concern as he spoke.
Smiling, Stark tried to ease his mind. “No, it’s not big at all.”
His answer was returned with an innocent grin. “Good. I don’t like big owies. They take forever and ever to go away.” Johnny picked up his bowl again. “Do you want some soup?”
“You already gave me some,” Stark said, picking up the cup in front of them and taking a drink. It ‘was’ better than the bread he had been eating previously.
“Well, they didn’t destroy the galley, but it does look like they had some fun with their food.”
Both turned at the sound of Crichton’s voice behind them and saw him entering the room as Aeryn asked, “Is that what you called a food fight?”
His answer of no came with a small laugh. Stark glanced down at the table and saw that he was speaking about the broth splash over the table top.
“Not having fun, we eatin,” Johnny proclaimed, holding up his bowl and showing Crichton.
“Johnny was merely sharing his meal with me. I’m afraid a little was spilled in the process. I will clean it up for him.”
“Don’t worry about it, Stark. I’ll do it.” Coming across the room, Crichton grabbed a cleaning cloth from one of the shelves and came over to the table and began wiping up the liquid.
“I noticed Johnny has an injury. How did he hurt himself?”
Crichton’s hand stopped moving for a moment before continuing. “It happened when I was trying to shave him a little bit ago. He was moving around and the razor nicked him.”
He could tell that there was something more that had happened than what Crichton was willing to tell by the way his body tensed slightly.
“If would allow me, I would like to show you a technique that is taught from father to son with my people. In the slaving camps, more often than not, fathers are not around long enough with their offspring to teach them the ways of manhood. This way seems to be effective in showing the more rambunctious of the young males who do not want to sit long enough to learn.”
Crichton stopped wiping the table top and glanced over to the doorway to where Aeryn stood quietly before looking back at him.
“Thanks, Stark. I’d appreciate that.”
ETA: I read Flowers For Algernon today because thehallway said this story reminded her of it in the way it makes her feel. If you guys don't see her for a while, it's because I've kicked her ass for making me cry like a baby.