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But For Grace

by hossgal

[Story Headers]

due to the extraordinary nature of the situation outlined above -

"Your Grace?"

Rygel XVI, the Dominar Returned, did not turn from his desk. With one hand, he waved the chamberlain forward, while the other traced the line of closely-written snarl of threat, supplication, and bribery that was the latest communication from the governor of three of his wealthiest worlds. Of the Hynerian Empire's wealthiest worlds.

outlined above, assumption of the limitations assigned by Royal Order 487.3.24 would result -

"Your Grace, your visitor has arrived."

Rescue. Finally. Rygel sighed and unhinged his sled from the desk.

"Send him in."

The chamberlain was already nodding and backing away. His hand hand yet to touch the door, however, when it slammed back on its guide rails and bounced off the catch bar. Rebounding, the door slapped into the hand of a near-Sebeaccan male, who caught the edge easily as he stepped around the indignant chamberlain.

"Sparky, old buddy, how's it hanging?"

Rygel waved the chamberlain away. There never had been any explanation for John Crichton, even if Rygel had been inclined to give one.

Instead he toggled the throne sled up until he was floating at an equal height with the human.

"I thought I told you to use discretion, Crichton. Swaggering in through the public space port like that! If you were assassinated, or, Gods, kidnapped on Hyneria, it would be extremely..."

"Tragic?"

"Messy." Rygel snapped. "And I've had enough of mess." A hand waved at the desk and the scattered data chips. "I've plenty of it here, without you adding to the chaos."

"Everyone's got a talent, Sparky." He cocked his head, arms on his hips, leather coat tucked back to show his sidearm, still covering his scars. Playing the swaggering Peacekeeper that he so resembled, and never had been. Waiting.

"Everyone does. And yours always included tying up traffic patterns. You'll use my official diplomatic transport when you leave."

"Already throwing me out? I just got here. And no offense to your hometown, Sparky, but it's a bit damp for a tourist attraction. I didn't come to see the sights. You asked, I hustled."

And now that Crichton was here, Rygel found his resolution slipping away. He turned the throne sled, used the movement to drift back across the room, away from the door. He stopped at the painting he'd had installed, a newly commissioned piece, showing Rygel the Great at his first - but not greatest - victory. Staring at the painting, Rygel asked, "Do you think it a good piece? I mean, I know you're no judge of Hynerian character, and of course you've never seen the official painting..."

"It doesn't look like you, if that's what you mean." Crichton stepped away from the door, crossed the room in a pair of easy strides. He leaned a hip against the window frame. "Look, Sparky, I left the kid and the woman and came a very long way, so if you don't mind cutting to the chase, I'd appreciate it."

"Oh, sit down and stop looming. I've seen you naked and puking, you don't intimidate me."

Crichton snorted and hitched himself up to sit on the window ledge. Rygel sighed, searched for a way to begin.

"I would say, thank you for coming, except..."

The human shrugged and said, "Well, Sparky, I'd say glad to be here, but I'm not. And you're not coming to the point. What's up?"

"Perhaps I only wanted a conversation, with a friend."

"You don't have any of those here? I must have passed half a million little green guys between the driveway and your door."

"I am Dominar. I have servants, syncopates, simpering concubines and scheming advisers. I do not have friends."

"Wow, Buckwheat. Look at you, all poetic and bitter. Aren't you a bit old for channeling your inner teenie-bopper?"

If there had been a reply to that, he would have made one. Instead, Rygel let the silence creep on, slow as the mist rising off the River. Crichton kept his seat in the window, back to the wall, half watching Rygel, half gazing out the barrier glass at the amber lights across the City, blinking on, one by one.

Finally, Crichton said, "Aeryn says hi. Said to tell you, again, if you need us, say the word."

Rygel laughed. "So I have the mighty John Crichton, shaker of worlds, destroyer of empires, at my beck and call - and his wife as well? I am great, indeed."

Now he had all of Crichton's attention. "In deed, huh, Sparky? A Dominar of action, that's right. So, tell me, which deeds have made you great?"

Rygel's hand trembled over the controls to his throne sled. Crichton had not moved, but the man sitting in the window was now deadly, as he had not been, twenty microts before.

This is the madman who faced down two armadas, Rygel thought. And then something came to him.

"Saved your emma, more than twice. And," when Crichton would have waved that away, his face still hard, "Carried your son. Embryo. Whatever. It was an disgusting body breeding experience, and I hope never to repeat it."

Crichton stared at him, eyes gone wide and bulging, his mouth hanging open like a budong's maw. Then Crichton threw his head back and laughed - his first laugh, the bright hoot that the human had used, daily, when he had first arrived, bedragged, illiterate and insensible, on Moya's deck. An infant's laugh, an idiot's. Ignorant fool. But Crichton had lived, and that laugh came less and less, that first cycle, until it had faded away into a thin echo of the cheer it had originally held.

By the end, when the war was trembling over them, threatening to wash them all away, and the last battle was Crichton's, and his alone...by then, Rygel had forgotten what that vocalization of amusement had sounded like. Crichton had been ironic, scornful, bitter. Had sneered, and scowled, and smirked. He'd not been joyful, not for a long time.

But he laughed now, laughed long and hard, as if the human had never sat in the Chair, never gone out to die, never lost, never killed. Rygel watched the human lean back against the window and bray, laughing so hard he looked like a Hynerian with an attack of the intons, and when it finally trailed away into a series of hiccups, Rygel found the courage to speak over the end of it.

"I had Bishan executed. Three weeks ago."

That sobered Crichton, made the human wipe his eyes and cough, but it did not wipe the humor from his face.

"We saw, on the broadcasts. Not even thirty seconds worth of news, out of Hynerian space." He paused, his gaze playing over Rygel's face. "I remember hearing, right after, well, about when you decided to leave Moya. That Bishan had jumped planet, took off."

Rygel shook his head. "That was the rumor. But he never got off world. He spent eight months hiding, being shifted from house to house by sympathizers. My agents caught word that he was trying to hire transport - not who, just someone important, from the Peacekeeper regime. Pulled him from a mudhole on the north coast, filthy and stinking." He shifted on the sled, resisting the impulse to look away from Crichton. "He had a trial, was found guilty of treason, and was executed."

"Treason."

Now Rygel did look away, over the human's shoulder to the night settling over his world. "He sold the Empire to Peacekeeper control, invited those thugs into our councils and courts and countryside - there were thousands of them on Hyneria alone. Thousands of Hynerians died or imprisoned, resisting Peacekeeper occupation. He betrayed me to Durak." Rygel swallowed. "He had a trial."

This time, Crichton let the silence drag on, his gaze never leaving Rygel's. Slowly, slowly, the throne sled settled, until the undercarriage trembled a handspan over the carpet.

"He had a trial."

Crichton's voice was was quiet, and empty of the anger Rygel expected. "Did he appeal to you? You know, as royal cousin? Favor for the family?"

"Yes. In - in this room. He begged me. Asked for exile, imprisonment, labor camp. Anything."

"You said no."

"He gave me to Durka."

Crichton nodded, and finally, turned to look out the window. "I'm not the one you want to talk to, Sparky. Zhaan -"

"-is dead." And that death, if it were to be laid anywhere, rested on Crichton's shoulders. "So is D'argo, so is -"

"So are a lot of people." He sighed. "Rygel, if Bishan hadn't sold you out, you wouldn't have been on Moya. If you hadn't been on Moya, well, how many prisoners actually get loose from the Peacekeepers? How many?"

"Not many." Crais's pursuit of Moya hadn't been entirely unjustified - escaped prisoners made the whole Peacekeeper structure tremble.

"Yeah. So if you hadn't been there, maybe none of us would be alive. Would have lived as long we did." He stared out the window. The mist had faded, as it did after nightfall. The amber lights mimicked a star field, now. "It doesn't make him right, and I can't say I lost any sleep over it. But." He shrugged. "That's all I got, Sparky. And like you said, I owe you pretty much everything. Bishan sold you out."

"I tried to, to sell you out. All of you. Aeryn, Zhaan, D'argo...You forgave me."

And there it was. Rygel grounded the sled again, waiting. Crichton pulled his gaze back from the window. His face had gone strange, an expression Rygel could not remember seeing before. He pushed off the window ledge, knelt on the floor, his eyes level with Rygel's.

"Well, you see," he said, and smiled. Rygel smiled back, despite the warning in the back of his mind, no, wait, I know that smile....

Crichton went on. "Thing is, I've always been a better person than you, Sparky."

Rygel had stared, his throat threatening to close on him. But Crichton began to laugh again, and this time Rygel could not help but join in.

It wasn't the truth he'd thought he'd wanted, when he had sent for Crichton. But it would do.

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Fandom:  Farscape
Title:  But For Grace
Author:  hossgal   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  G  |  gen  |  10k  |  12/08/06
Characters:  Rygel, John
Summary:  In <i>deed</i>, huh, Sparky? A Dominar of action, that's right. So, tell me, which deeds have made you great?
Notes:  Spoilers: Through Peacekeeper War
Author's Note: For Cofax, who wanted Rygel, betrayal and redemption. It got bigger than a hundred words. 1,800 words.
Disclaimer/Other:  Thanks to Florastuart for beta. Disclaimer/Permissions/Contact: Farscape characters and concepts property of Kemper, et al, not me. This is a work of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended, no money is being made. Please do not archive without permission, please credit the author if remixing/borrowing original characters/etc. Reviewing, reccing, feedback (positive, not positive, concrit, all welcome) need neither permission nor notification. Feedback printed out and taped to Moya's frig at hosscheka at yahoo dot com.

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