Disclaimer: The characters and situations of 'Farscape' depicted in this story are legal property of Rockne S. O'Bannon, Brian Henson, Jim Henson Corp., Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Networks, The SciFi Channel, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement intended.

Suitable for all audiences

Spoilers: Season one up to A Human Reaction- John tries to explain the concept of Christmas and is visited by his very own Miss Santa.
Comments are welcome at


Una Fritz

John had worked all solar day on his module and now when the call for their nightly dinner came for the second time, he sighed and put the wrench away.

No use, getting them all riled up again if I'm late, he thought and straightened. Smudges were on his grey T-shirt and on his chin and forehead. Scrubbing his hands clean on a rag he made his way slowly to the center chamber.

It had been almost a cycle now and in Earth standards it was shortly before Christmas. John sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.

Man, Christmas, snow, a tree and lots of pressies - and I'm not there to tell Dad I'm still alive, he told himself silently. I wonder if the PKs have some equivalent to Christmas, but probably they haven't - Aeryn said they didn't even believe in the after life, heaving another sigh he entered the central chamber and was greeted by the incessant chatter of his crew mates.

Now this is a sight, they are not at each other's throats for a change, John thought and walked over to the refrigerating unit. Arranging some food cubes onto a plate he made his way over to the table. Aeryn made room for him on the bench without looking up. At any other time, John would have seen it as a good sign but tonight he just felt melancholic and just sat down without acknowledging her.

Aeryn shot him a quick look. She had not seen him for the whole day, although she had known he had been working on his module, as she had asked Pilot several times for John's whereabouts. The human had been very withdrawn for a couple of days now and she wondered why. More over she missed his quips and their arguments.

When the others had filed out after their meal, Aeryn stood up and squared the plates and containers away. Without a word, John helped her, grabbing a towel and drying off the dishes. He leant against the counter with his back and stared off while drying off a plate for a second time, when Aeryn wiped her hands on her leather pants and turned towards him. Taking up her usual Peacekeeper stance by hooking her thumbs into her belt.

"What's up, Crichton?" she asked, explicitly using one of his Earth expressions.

"Huh?" John inquired and looked at her as if he had just returned from somewhere far, far away.

"What's the matter with you, Crichton?" Aeryn inquired again with an exaggerated sigh.

"Umm, jus' thinkin'," John muttered and put the plate away. When he turned to get another plate, Aeryn moved slightly into his way, their bodies touching, as she folded her arms across her chest.

"Aeryn, I just ..." he motioned towards the plates. When she didn't budge, he looked into her face.

"You never just think, Crichton. You have been unusually quiet, and I want to know what's going on ..." Aeryn said and quirked an eyebrow at him.

John shook his head and threw the towel onto the countertop. Of all the times she could have showed her concern she has to chose now, John thought and rubbed his eyebrow.

"Look, Aeryn, it's nothing," he wanted to turn away but was stopped by her hand on his arm.

"Remember our talk after what happened with Namtar? You said I would fit right in with the humans on Earth. Now, I could return the compliment. You would fit in with the Peacekeepers, you are as tongue tied as them..."she rasped, her grey eyes unusually cloudy.

Crichton paused for a moment and stared at her. Was that real concern in her voice? Feeling concern for the stupid human? he asked himself. And she had referred to the Peacekeepers as them - not me or us ... Her set features spoke of her determination to get him to talk and so John resigned. With a sigh he walked over to the table and slumped down on the bench.

He heard Aeryn rummaging through the storage containers at his back and turned slightly when she sat down beside him. She put two cups in front of him and filled them up with Gor'lac, an alcoholic beverage they had acquired on their last stop at a commerce planet. It tasted like wine but was as strong as whiskey.

"Don't you think that is a bit too strong for just a talk?" John inquired, cocking his head towards her and Aeryn grinned despite herself.

"Everything to get you talking, Crichton," Aeryn stated matter of factly, but John saw a small smile curving the corner of her mouth. The Sebacean swung a leg over the bench and sat down. After having taken a sip of her Gor'lac, she watched John.

"What?" John said and turned towards her.

"Talk, that is what you are good at, Crichton," she invited and leant sideways on the table.

John let out an exasperated sigh. "Okay, Aeryn you win - I shoot," he said and grinned when she showed her patented more-human-craziness look.

John played around with the cup in his hand. How shall I explain about Christmas, without her getting mad or belittling me? he asked himself and watched her from the corner of his eye. Aeryn sat quietly, her eyes intently fixed on his face and her hands in her lap.

"Ah ... I guess you don't know about Christmas, right? Peacekeepers don't have religious celebrations ..." He looked at her and she shook her head no.

"On Earth, we celebrate the birth of a religious figure every year in December. Which would be according to Earth time right now. Actually it's a mixture of various religious and pagan traditions. Kids love it. When I was a kid, I sneaked downstairs in the night to await the arrival of Santa Clause who came down the chimney to drop off the presents ..."

"So this Santer Clouse is born in a .. chimney?" Aeryn asked, her brows knitted together in doubt.

John laughed and took another sip of the Gor'lac. "No, Santa is part of folklore .. pagan tradition. In the religious sense we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the saviour. But anyway, what's so great about Christmas is, the family comes together, we eat, talk, laugh together and there is snow depending on where you live on Earth."

"And your family always comes together?" Aeryn inquired softly and leant forward. John swung a leg onto the bench resting an arm on his knee, smiling softly at her.

"Yeah, it is a big family get-together and last year - or cycle - Dad and I invited DK over and we just got drunk as skunks and had hangovers which lasted till New Year's Eve. But when I was little, my mom was still there and my grandparents," When he saw the question in her eyes, he explained further, "Grandparents are the parents of one's parents. Most times, Dad wasn't there or would come in later but he had always something special for me for Christmas. When I was about ten cycles old he brought a piece of moon stone - it was amazing, a piece of rock from another planet. I know you can't understand what that meant to me, but at that time, it was just ... WOW," John exclaimed.

Aeryn watched Crichton closely. Ever since he had started to talk, his face had lit up and she pictured John as a small child, happily holding a piece of planet crap in his hands. When she had been ten cycles old, she was at a Peacekeeper training camp on a forlorn piece of rock, undergoing hand to hand combat manoeuvres. From the look of things, he must have had a very happy childhood, something she never had. Once again she wondered how different the human and she herself were. But nevertheless, she wanted to hear more about that strange human custom.

"How is it like?" she asked softly. "This Krissmass?"

John watched her for a microt then realised that this was an all-new concept to her.

"I guess it will take all night - errr... sleep cycle to get to explain Christmas, so I better get us another Gor'lac," he said and stood up to get the bottle. When he came back he re-filled their cups again and rubbed his lower lip in thought.

"We decorate our houses with trees, Christmas trees. They are green even in winter, they don't lose their leaves and they smell real nice. Then we put colourful bits and pieces onto the tree and sing songs and stuff. Everything is swathed in red and green and gold and you have mistletoes around the house. If you happen to stand under one of those twigs you have to ki... ahh, never mind ...," he cut himself short. Better not go there, he told himself firmly while his eyes were fixed on her lips. If I'm not careful Aeryn could turn into full Peacekeeper mode again, and I rather like her being relaxed around me instead of glaring. He started to explain more about the Christmas tree, hoping to divert her and especially himself from the mistletoe tradition, but Aeryn let him down - sort of.

"You do what?" she inquired. "Under the mis-missile too?"

"Mistletoe," he corrected her absent-mindedly.

"Yes, mistletoe," she pronounced it very carefully. "What do you do underneath it?"

"Ah .. we kiss and embrace ... it's a old pagan ritual. Actually, it comes from the times when people believed that they meet their future mates during Christmas and if they kissed, they ...ummm, they married the next cycle. But it is fun ... Ahhh, well not fun if you get a kiss from an aunt or something." Crichton couldn't avert his gaze from her lips. I wouldn't mind kissing you though, Aeryn, he thought. He shook his head and embarrassed by the direction his thoughts had taken, he rubbed over his own lips with his thumb.

"That is a strange concept," Aeryn said, oblivious to his thoughts. "Why would anyone kiss their family?"

John was taken aback for a moment, but then remembered that she never had a family, never experienced the loving community of relations.

"When you care about someone on Earth you show them through a lot of things, like kissing. And it isn't as if we kiss on the lips, well not with your family," he explained. "We just show that we care, that someone is loved and respected. We also give each other presents. It is tradition," he flashed her one of his Southern-Boy grins and Aeryn's own mouth curved upward.

"It sounds interesting. So strange, but interesting, Crichton," Aeryn said and closed her eyes for a moment. How different our lives have been, she thought again. I don't understand much about what he is telling me, but the way he explains it all, it must matter to him extremely.

"Tell me more about this Santa Cloose. Why is he dropping the presents in the chimney?"

John complied and so for the next few arns he tried to the best of his abilities and knowledge to explain how Santa Clause brought the presents and why the Grinch tried to steal Christmas.

The next day, Moya had reached another commerce planet. Once on planet, D'Argo and Chiana went off to get their needed supplies, while John and Aeryn stood watching the hustle and bustle of the market place.

Last night, back in her quarters, Aeryn had thought long about what Crichton had told her and she wanted to make him a present to show him that she was grateful for his explanation to human customs. She had picked up on the tell-tale signs of homesickness and she wanted to ease the pain the human was obviously feeling.

The Ex-Peacekeeper had been amazed at this sentiment. She had never given anyone presents, likewise she had never received a present either. You get promoted and not a present, Aeryn thought as she stood near their transport pod and made her mind up what she would get for Crichton.

"I have to get some spare parts for my prowler," Aeryn commented and looked over her shoulder towards Crichton. "I won't be long."

"Hey, Aeryn, I'm coming with you. You don't want me getting into trouble, are ya'?" He grinned and strolled alongside with her. Aeryn sighed. This is not going to work, she thought.

"Look, Crichton. I only want to get spare parts. You stay with the pod," she said and stopped in mid stride. John had walked a couple of feet and turned around, looking at her.

"Oh come on, Aeryn. We haven't met any Peacekeepers for two weekens and I would like to enjoy the scenery." He gave her his patented puppy-dog look and Aeryn, despite herself, had to smile. She suppressed it but John saw the small curving of her lips.

"Yes!" He whooped and took her arm, linking his with hers. "Come on, Aeryn, I can carry your spare parts." Aeryn looked doubtful at him sideways, but she walked towards the market with him.

It was a small market and soon they had found the parts they were looking for. When they passed a botanist stand, John stopped dead in his tracks.

"Look at this," he said and shifted the packages on his arms to pick up a bunch of twigs.

"What is it?" Aeryn inquired peering over his shoulder.

"That looks like fir ... remember the Christmas tree I talked about ... that is fir .. well it looks like it," he raised the branches to his nose and sniffed. "It is fir." He grinned and held the twigs underneath Aeryn's nose. She sniffed and paused, then she took a whiff of the fragrance again.

"Smells nice ... does it smell like Krissmass?" She inquired and paused when he saw John's ecstatic smile as he buried his nose into the bush again. "I guess so," she commented and turned to the seller.

Soon she had acquired an armful of the needled branches and were carrying them back to the pod. While John was still grinning like a mad man she paused when she passed a haberdashery stand.

"Crichton, I have to get something for Zhaan, so you go on to the pod," she yelled and John nodded.

"Sure thing, I'll wait for ya'," he said and flashed her a smile over his shoulder. Aeryn shook her head, but despite her annoyance with the human, she smiled. You are definitely softening, Aeryn, she told herself as she turned to the seller.

"What do you wish to acquire, Peacekeeper?" the man asked, eyeing her suspiciously. She and the male looked and dressed like Peacekeeper but he had seen her small smile toward the male. He was quite surprised to see a Peacekeeper this relaxed and ... what was the word - happy. His thoughts were disturbed when he heard Aeryn answering: "Do you have any coloured fabrics or bands? I need them in red, green and gold."

"Sure Peacekeeper, I have them over here."

Aeryn not only bartered for some bands but also for silver-coloured baubles. She parted with one of her carbines on her tool belt and although she felt a momentary pang of regret for her madness, to barter a useful item for some fanciness, she told herself that it was all right.

Aeryn lingered in the transport hangar and waited till the last of her crew members had filed out. John, carrying the last of their crates towards the central chamber paused and looked back at her.

"You coming?" he asked and cocked an eyebrow at her.

"In a microt, I just check on the pod again. I think I heard some strange noise in the revs," Aeryn lied quickly. She waited what seemed like an eternity while John watched her.

"Okay-y," John drawled and shook his head. What was Miss Aeryn Sun up to again?, he asked himself. There was no strange sound in the revs.

Aeryn checked if she was completely alone, then she scrambled back into the pod and opened the compartment in which she had quickly stashed and hidden her purchased items before John or the others had entered it.

Hugging the branches and the other stuff to her chest, she quickly made her way to her cell.

John watched Zhaan as she tried to raise Aeryn for the third time on her comm. When Aeryn did not reply, Zhaan sighed and was about to stand up. John raised quickly to his feet.

"I'll get her, Zhaan," he said and went off in search of Aeryn.

He checked the transport hangar, the work out area and finally the terrace but Aeryn was not there. John hit the comm, "Yo, Pilot, can you locate Aeryn for me please?" he asked and Pilot's voice wavered through the comm device.

"It appears she is in her quarters but has switched off her comm, John. Although she did not tell me not to be disturbed it appears she ... doesn't want to be disturbed."

"Well, I'll disturb her all right, Pilot. Thanks," John smirked and headed down to the sleeping quarters. He heard her even from down the corridor although some of the more explicit swear words she uttered were not translated by the microbes.
John walked up to her open cell door and took a quick look in. Aeryn sat on the floor, surrounded by bits and pieces of fabric as well as the branches. The whole room was filled with the distinctive fragrant of fir needles and John slowly walked in.

"Aeryn?" he asked tentatively, looking at the bits of red and green linings on the floor. He squatted down and picked one up, his thumb caressing the velvety quality of the fabric.

Aeryn's head snapped up and looked at him with deadly intent in her eyes while she rose to her feet. In one hand she held her knife and in the other she held up a piece of fabric.

"That is all your fault, Crichton!" she exclaimed and threw the fabric down on the ground. "This dren isn't working!" She stomped her foot and the fabric underneath her boot tore with an angry sound.

"Hey, Aeryn, what's up?" He motioned around the room, taking in the mess. "What ... is all this?"

"Frell you, John, get out!" Aeryn snapped, picking up bits and pieces from the floor. She felt stupid and was angry that Crichton had caught her. After all, I'm doing all this dren for him, she thought. The thought stopped her in her track. What AM I doing here? she asked herself. I mean it is not that I am obligated to do something for this homesick human!

The subject of her thoughts had inspected the room and the bits and pieces. Something was familiar ... something ...Christmas decorations? he thought and picked up a silver bauble.

"You're making Christmas decorations?" he asked with a definite catch in his voice. "For me?"

"Don't flatter yourself, Crichton. And now get out!" Aeryn growled, not ready to admit the truth. She stomped over to her cell door and pointed with the knife outside. John chuckled and walked over to her.

"Aeryn, admit it. You have a soft heart, Sunshine," he put the fabric he had picked off the floor around her shoulders and pecked her chin. A deep growl rose in her throat and John thought it better to retreat - fast.

"Don't forget to eat, Miss Santa Sun," he quipped over his shoulder and ran the way towards the central chamber, chuckling.

"Frell you, Crichton!" Aeryn whispered under her breath and turned toward her room again. All over the place there was torn fabric and she wondered how she would be able to clean up this mess again. She sighed and quickly picked up the fabric.

Dumping them on a small table nearby she looked down on the fabric and bands curled up there. There was nothing a Peacekeeper couldn't accomplish, she told herself and dragged a stool over to the table and sat down. Sighing, she set out on her task to cut up the fabric into bands and putting them around the branches.

John still chuckled when he entered the central chamber. He caught Zhaan's questioning look and shook his head.

"She will be eating later ... probably PK PMS again," he said and sat down, still chuckling to himself. She is doing Christmas decorations ... for me, he thought and grinned.

"John, what is the matter?" Zhaan inquired softly and John heard the concern in her voice.

"Don't worry, Zhaan, everything is fine. It's just that Aeryn made my day," he flashed her another smile. "By the way, anyone care to return to the planet tomorrow? Have we forgotten anything? I'll take the pod down anyway ..."

"Crichton, you will do not!" D'Argo barged in and rose to his feet. "Is this another of your human craziness?"

Zhaan put her hand on D'Argo's arm. "As a matter of fact, I do have forgotten something. D'Argo, why don't you accompany John and get me the herbs I need tomorrow?"

Gruffly, D'Argo grabbed another foodcube and nodded his head curtly into the Delvian's direction. John stood up, leant over the table, and gave Zhaan a kiss on her cheek.

"Thanks, Zhaan," he said.

The flight to the planet on the next day was uneventful. Chiana had agreed to accompany them so the flight was filled with quips and jokes between them. Getting the herbs was not a problem, but after they had purchased them, John wasn't still sure what to get for Aeryn as a Christmas present. Luckily, Chiana wanted to eat something in a nearby cantina, and while she dragged D'Argo with her, John strolled over the market again.

Watching the stalls closely, John stopped at a jeweller's. Some of the work was crude but some was of astounding quality. Taking a piece here and there, examining chains and rings, he let his thoughts wander.

A little chain? Naw, she would strangle me with it. A ring, oops, nope Johnny Boy, been there, done that, didn't work out. So what? He rubbed his thumb over his chin.

"May I be of service, Peacekeeper?" The proprietor asked and John looked up from a small ring he was twirling between his fingers.

"Yeah, I'm looking for a present," he said. "For a female."

"Is this female the female Peacekeeper I saw yesterday?" The man asked and John quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Yeah, so?" he growled and the proprietor rose his hands in a calming gesture.

"We do not get a lot of off-world visitors, and a beautiful female like her gets noticed and claimed if she is still available. But as you are purchasing a present for her, I see she is already spoken for," the man replied smoothly.

John frowned but shrugged his shoulders. The man was saying the truth, Aeryn is beautiful, he thought. His gaze fell upon one of the hair clips which lay to the side. He picked up a silvery one with dark blue stones, that looked like Lapislazuli.

Picturing Aeryn with it, he suddenly smiled.

"Perfect," he said and looked up. "I'll take this one." They soon fixed the bargain and John stashed the clip into one of his pockets of the BDUs he was wearing. Hugging a bunch of Zhaan's herbs to himself he trotted off into the general direction of the transport pod, when he passed yet another botanist stall, his eyes fell on a plant he recognised.

"What's this?" he asked and the woman smiled.

"This is Quelltek, it is used for ... womanly pains," the seller said and grinned again, wondering what a male wanted with that particular plant.

John had no such qualms and with a grin he bought it. Now this is just grant, he thought. Perhaps I get my Christmas kiss after all.

Zhaan passed quietly Aeryn's cell. She noticed that the door was open and paused in the doorway. Zhaan was about to call out to her but watched Aeryn instead, as the Peacekeeper fixed the last of the baubles onto a branch with a small wire. The Delvian was amazed how different the woman looked when she felt unobserved. Aeryn was bending over a piece of branch, tongue sticking out between her lips and concentrating hard on fixing a small wire to the branch.

"This looks beautiful, Aeryn," Zhaan commented and watched as the face of the Peacekeeper hardened.

Both women stared at each other and it was Aeryn who looked away first. "Do you think so, Zhaan?" she inquired. "I think it looks like dren. It's not supposed to be drooping like that."

Zhaan walked over and inspected the decoration. "What is its purpose? A Sebacean celebration?"

Aeryn shook her head. "It's for ... He told me about this custom back on his Erp and I thought ... well, this dren is for him." She concluded angrily and shoved herself to her feet.

"No need to get angry because you do something nice for John, Aeryn," Zhaan said and picked up one of the remaining bands.

"Peacekeeper aren't nice," Aeryn commented matter of factly.

"But you are not a Peacekeeper anymore, Aeryn," replied Zhaan in a soothing voice. "It is always good to better oneself. I think it is such a sweet idea, and you should be proud of what you have created with your own two hands." With this the Delvian Pa'u left.

Dren! Aeryn thought and looked around. She should better clean the mess up, hide the decorations and get to her prowler for the much needed repairs. Already I have wasted two days with this dren! Aeryn thought and snorted.

She was just entering the transport bay when she saw the pod landing. Willing herself to ignore the passengers - especially one passenger in particular - she grabbed the spare parts she had acquired the day before and set to work. Aeryn had worked for a couple of arns, directing the DRDs here and there, checking and counter-checking the parts she had replaced, when she heard someone entering the transport bay.

"Pilot, let the DRDs check the circuits again," she asked from underneath her prowler.

"I will do so, Aeryn Sun," Pilot replied. "Want me to let them check over the welded fuses as well?"

"Thank you, Pilot." She shoved herself from under the prowler and came face to face with Crichton's boots.

"What do you want?" she growled and scrambled to her feet.

"Just wanted to remind you that it's Christmas Eve tonight, Aeryn," John grinned when she flashed him a deadly look.

"So what?" she snapped.

"Uh-umm, just wanted to remind you, Aeryn. No need to bite my head off," John mumbled and looked down, studying his boots intently. Aeryn's anger dissolved just like this and she sighed inwardly. I never can be mad at him if he gives me the rejected puppy look, she thought and shook her head.

"Well Crichton, if you leave me be to finish this off, there might be a chance for you to have your Krissmass," she muttered and squatted down to watch the DRDs going over the repaired space of her prowler again.

"Officer Sun, the DRDs will inform you when the check is completed," Pilot said and if Aeryn had not known better, she would have suspected him and John being in this together. She snorted and stood up.

"All right, thank you Pilot," she said and stomped off into the general direction of her quarters.

"Yeah, thanks, Pilot," John said and grinned at the symbiote on the clamshell.

John felt rattlers in his stomach. After dinner that night, he had returned to his quarters, rummaging through the meagre possessions he had to find some kind of wrapping. At the bottom of his trunk he had finally found one of the IASA manuals and the cover of the book was made of soft paper with a glossy surface. Carefully taking the manual apart he got enough paper to wrap the hair clip in and grinned at the finished product.

"John?" Pilot's voice wavered over the comm.

"Yes, Pilot?" John inquired, after he had switched it on.

"Officer Sun requests your presence on the terrace," Pilot said and John was certain he could hear a chuckle in the symbiote's calm voice.

"Thanks, Pilot, I'm on my way ..." John wanted to sever the connection but with an afterthought added: "Umm, Pilot, could you just close the doors as soon as I'm on the terrace, we don't want to be disturbed."

"Whatever you wish, John," came the reply. Sauntering off into the general direction of the terrace, John tossed the wrapped present into the air and caught it with his hands, while the other had a firm hold on a bushel of plant that looked suspiciously like mistletoes.

Aeryn was not happy. The decorations didn't look anything near the things Crichton had described two nights before. But it had to do, there was no turning back now, after she had given Pilot the okay to call John. Turning away from the decorations and the small table she had hauled onto the terrace, Aeryn stood in front of the vastness of space and the illuminated stars. You are a fool, Aeryn Sun, she told herself and was about to turn and extinguish the candles on the table when the door opened and the familiar tread of boots neared.

She turned around quickly, facing the stars again. She felt nervous and as if to defy her emotion, she hooked her thumbs into her belt and took her stand in full Peacekeeper mode.

John gaped. The terrace looked different and the whole room was filled with the strong fragrance of fir. Garlands had been swathed around every nook and cranny on the floor, the light of the candles reflecting in the silver baubles on the branches. Slowly, almost hesitant, John took another step onto the terrace.

That looks beautiful, he thought and his heart missed a beat or two. A great lump formed in his throat and he had to squeeze his eyes shut several times to fight the tears that welled up inside. Aeryn had waited all this time, microt after microt ticking away as she waited for a reaction from Crichton. This silence was not something she had expected.

She turned around and without daring to look at him, she mumbled: "I'm not good at this. Sorry I frelled up, Crichton ..." she heaved a sigh and tried to pass John. That actually shook him out of his reverie and he softly touched her hand in passing.

"It is beautiful, Aeryn. Thank you," he murmured softly.

At last, Aeryn dared to look at him and what she saw amazed her. His face showed all kind of emotion, wonderment laced with sadness and joy and something else ... like gratitude. I will never understand this man, Aeryn thought and shook her head. But she could not deny the warm feeling that surged through her stomach, filling her up with delight at his comment.

She raised her eyes to his and saw the unshed tears in his eyes. Her smile that had curved her lips, faltered slightly and she quickly looked away. I knew it was dren! Aeryn berated herself and took a step backward. Why had I ever thought I could make him happy? I'm just a Peacekeeper - I do not work with my hands unless I carry a gun!

John was oblivious to her thoughts and walked around the terrace, tucking here, observing there. All the while his smile broadened and the lump in his stomach and throat disappeared.

"This is amazing, Aeryn," he blurted out and just stood in the middle of the terrace slowly turning on his heels. "This is fantastic."

Aeryn watched him and cautiously she walked up to him. "It doesn't look at all like what you told me," she said but John shook his head and put his thumb against her lips when she wanted to elaborate.

"Yes, Aeryn, it doesn't look like anything I know from Earth, it is more beautiful. And coming from you it means so much more to me..." he breathed and Aeryn closed her eyes for a moment. That feels good, she told herself and although she was never one to gloat, a sense of pride filled her.

John watched her closely. It filled him with joy that she had been so considerate, despite her Peacekeeper upbringing. It meant a lot to him, coming from his radiant Aeryn Sun. He remembered the present he had bought for her and rummaging through his pockets he finally produced it.

"Merry Christmas, Aeryn," he said softly and held the present up in front of her. Aeryn creased her brows together and with a quick glance from the present to his face and back to the present, she took a step backward.

"I ..." she mumbled, feeling utterly lost. A present? she thought.

"You're supposed to take it, Aeryn, not glare at it," John commented with a chuckle. Tentatively, she took the wrapped parcel and weighed it speculatively in her hand.

"Thank you," she heard herself say and hugged it to her breast. John frowned, then it dawned on him that she probably didn't know she was supposed to open it.

"Open it, Sunshine," he urged her. "That's the fun thing about Christmas, remember? I told you as a kid I tore the wrapping from my presents."

Slowly, Aeryn turned the present in her hands and carefully opened the paper. She smoothed the creases out of it, unconsciously stalling the moment when she would see her present. When she finally took out the hair clip she looked at it, and her face showed clearly, that she did not know what it was for. Her fingertips traced the intricate etchings on the silver. John grinned.

"Here let me show you," He stepped behind her and loosened the fastening of her ponytail, then he held out his hand toward the clip and Aeryn gave it to him. The Sebacean could feel her hair falling around her shoulders and then John's hands gently going through her hair as he swept it up at her temples.

John lingered and delayed the moment were he had to fasten the clip and had to let go of her hair. It was silky to his touch and he enjoyed it immensely, letting the tresses run through his fingers, smelling it. Aeryn shuddered when he felt John leaning into her. He stood so close that she could feel his body heat emanating from his chest and for a moment she leant into this heat, brushing her back against him, while his breath fanned part of her ear and cheek.

"See, you wear it in your hair," he whispered. Slowly, his hands came to rest on her shoulders, then travelled down her arms to encircle her. "Thank you, Aeryn."

Aeryn was not sure if she liked the way he held her or not. The Peacekeeper side of her mind growled in frustration that she let it happen, let a lesser lifeform hold her like this. The other side, the side that had grown over the last cycle, urged her to dwell in the feeling, to lean into the warmth of this human and just be.

In the end her Peacekeeper training won out and she stepped away from him. "I thank you, Crichton," she said, raising her hand to touch the clip at the top of her head. She smiled her sad smile and turned.

"Merry Christmas, Crichton," she said softly, for once getting the pronunciation right. John watched her as she left the terrace then his gaze fell upon the bushel of herbs that lay discarded on the floor. It must have fallen onto the floor when he had been gobsmacked by the sheer beauty of the decorated terrace. With a sigh he picked the mistletoe up and lay it gently onto the table. Sitting down in front of the starlit sky, he closed his eyes.

"Guess I won't get my Christmas kiss tonight," he said softly, then as an afterthought added, "Merry Christmas, Dad and DK."

Aeryn watched the forlorn figure sitting in front of the tableau of stars. Ever since she had left the terrace, she had berated herself for doing just that. Her Peacekeeper side was mellowing, she knew that but at times like these it came to the surface again, like a security device that kicked in.

She had watched John for what seemed like arns ever since she had come back from her command duty. Soon he would stir and relieve D'Argo himself but Aeryn could not take her eyes off him, let alone walk down to her quarters to get her well-needed sleep. When he stirred, she jumped all of a sudden, and stepped deeper into the shadows of one of Moya's coil-beams. She watched him pass her on his way to command, then slipped onto the terrace. The candles had long burned out and Aeryn squared away the mess. Her gaze fell onto a bushel of herbs that lay on the table. She picked it up and the herb struck a familiar chord deep within her. Something about John telling her about a plant with white berries ... Missletoo, Aeryn thought and she smiled. When you care for someone you show it... John's voice echoed in her mind and she cared .. a lot - even if she was not yet ready to voice it out loud.

John was more crouching than standing over one of Moya's control panels, when Aeryn came into command. He heard her approaching him - her footsteps as familiar to him as the back of his own hand - but he did not turn around.

"Can't sleep?" he asked in a rejective tone, feeling decidedly miserable with himself. He waited for an answer but when the silence stretched, he tensed. "Aeryn?" he inquired and turned around, almost pushing over Aeryn who was standing right behind him.

"I forgot something," Aeryn said and looked up to her raised arm. John slowly followed her gaze and when he saw what she was holding in her hand, a dumbfounded smile broadened his mouth.

Aeryn leant over and put a kiss onto his lips, lingering and tasting. When she broke off the kiss and looked into his face, one pair of blue eyes bored into her.

"Merry Christmas, John," she managed to whisper softly before John grabbed the mistletoe with one hand and with the other drew her close into a tight embrace.

"My turn," he said mischievously and with a hoarse "Merry Christmas, Aeryn," he claimed her lips.

The End

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