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Title: Those Who Favor Fire
Author: cofax
Distribution: Just tell me, please.
Spoilers: Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides
Summary: Space would be too cold for him.
Note: This is the obligatory post-ep for Icarus Abides. Angst within, no other warnings apply.
Beta by Vehemently and Melymbrosia, other notes at end.
Feedback makes me do the wacky. Send it to:

Those Who Favor Fire
By cofax
September 2001

He'd always had so many frelling stories.

Stories about his childhood, growing up in sticky green heat, swimming naked at night in phosphorescent surf, recreating with the soft-smelling girls of his homeworld.

Stories about his friends; about his family, his myriad pets, his ever-broken vehicles, his school, his bizarre country.

Aeryn rolled out of the bed and stretched as she had done upon waking ever since she had been in the creche. That is, every time that she didn't wake to an alarm that had them racing to Command, naked but for their boots. She dug in her pack for clean clothes; there was little that wasn't black.

Sometimes, late during the sleep cycle when she was on watch in Command, or sleepless on the terrace under the light of strange stars, he would tell other stories. Slouched boneless in one of the few comfortable chairs, he would pour them both drinks and watch her with eyes that had seen so little of the universe, and tell dark stories. Stories about wandering souls mourning their own deaths or avenging other crimes; stories of heroes punished for good deeds with the vengeance of the gods.

She'd challenged him more than once. "Why do you tell these stories, Crichton? They're nothing more than the superstitions of a primitive people." "Why tell them to *me*," was what she had meant.

"Everyone needs stories, Aeryn. Even a Peacekeeper chick with the biggest fucking gun in this end of the galaxy." And he'd smiled, and drained his drink. But she'd seen a shadow in his eyes, and realized only now, so much later, that he'd needed someone else to hear them. Even D'Argo had heard of the Zelbinion, but until Crichton told her the story, no one else in a hundred thousand light-years would know the story about the king who killed his father and married his mother.

She pulled the black vest on over the white shirt. It would have to do: he'd told her more than once that his own people wore black for mourning, but that other humans sometimes wore white. So she would wear both. He'd approve, but then he had never really cared what she wore, except when she wore nothing at all.

She cut off that thought and strode across the chamber to braid her hair, bootheels tapping arrhythmically. They would let him go in an arn. There had been less argument from Crais about her plan than she had expected. While Crais had, reluctantly, grown to respect him, Crichton hadn't been a Peacekeeper, so there was no need to comply with Peacekeeper tradition. And space would be too cold for him.

Near the end, before she knew it was the end -- although how could she *not* have known, the most she had ever expected was an arn here and there -- near the end, he had lain awake beside her and talked about death.

Not *his* death: he'd never really believed in it, even after he'd died the first few times. What he talked about was how humans believed some people were born to die in one way only. Some were born to 'hang' -- and she'd wondered aloud how such an execution technique would work on a Pitrek, with its surgically hardened exoskeleton, and this had naturally led to a wrestling match, and then -- then to things she couldn't bear to linger on. She was a Peacekeeper, trained to death, but some things were beyond her strength. This she had learned from him as well.

Others were born to drown, and she let him see her shudder as he told the story of the vessel hunting a leviathan of the seas of his own world. And then, as the arns dwindled to the waking cycle, and her eyelids drooped, he talked about fire, about how a person's death was often thought to match his life. "Better to burn out than to fade away," he whispered against her ear, and hummed a snatch of music. No, never the cold of space for him.

"Officer Sun." Crais' voice came over the comm, an unexpected but welcome formality.

"I'm ready," she said, and picked up the bag from the bed. She had stuffed the clothes inside it yesterday, her eyes blind with rage. She couldn't destroy them as she wished: it had been hard for him to find enough to wear lately, and the Human on Moya, should the two crews ever meet up again, would need them. She left the chamber without a glance at her reflection. It wasn't something that mattered anymore.

They gathered in the docking bay: Crais, Stark, and Rygel. It was hardly a fitting farewell, and she missed Zhaan and D'Argo desperately for a moment. Crais said a few words; she didn't hear them. When he was done, Aeryn handed the Human's bag to Stark: she didn't want it with her. Then she climbed into the cabin of the transport pod. Crais stepped forward, but Stark held him back. She met the Banik's eyes briefly then turned her attention to the controls.

She barely noticed the others leave the airlock and the outer doors begin to open; all her attention was focused on her cargo. He had never said what he expected as his own death; probably he had hoped to die in bed, surrounded by children of his own people. She thought, though, that like herself he had stopped looking forward some time ago.

Well, he had died in fire after all, the fierce burst of photons as deadly to him as flame had ever been to Moya. He had died in fire, and he would leave them in fire as well, his body spiraling into the gravity well of a middle-aged yellow star.

She freed the well-wrapped bundle from the transport pod's clamps, and watched it drift away. Slowly at first, then faster, as her jets kept her in place against the star's draw. Only when she could no longer see that dark speck against the brilliance did she turn the pod away.

Back to Talyn; back, perhaps, to Moya, where someone with the same eyes and the same hands would try to tell her stories she already knew.


Notes: first dip into a new ficdom; hope y'all like it.

Many many thanks to Vehemently, who caught my commas and canonical inconsistencies; and to Melymbrosia, who proved to me it could be done, and who made me justify my choices; and to Nestra, for last-minute reassurances. And, always, all my love to Yes Virginia, without whom none of this would be possible.

I'm the darkness in your daughter
I'm the spot beneath the skin
I'm the scarlet on the pavement
I am the broken heart within
--- Yes Virginia I am ---

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