Aeryn didn't bother to hide her smile as she walked to Pilot's chamber. It was only a small smile of anticipation, after all. Nothing too incriminating....
It was an unexpected treasure, having Pilot as co-conspirator with herself and Crichton. Sometimes there was more business than pleasure in their meetings, but Pilot did his best to find them the odd half-arn or two to relax together, to enjoy this rapprochement between them.
Crichton, on the other hand.....
She hid her smile as she reached Pilot's den and entered the room. John was sitting up on Pilot's console, chatting. At the sound of her footsteps, he looked up, smiling when he saw it was indeed her. He hopped down to the floor and strode across the room to meet her, but his step faltered when he saw her serious expression.
She stopped perhaps a motra away from him, struggling to keep from smiling. "Hello, Pilot," she said, deliberately avoiding looking at John.
"Officer Sun," Pilot acknowledged pleasantly. "It's good to see you."
John took another step forward, and Aeryn couldn't help it, her eyes went straight to him, though her expression was still stern.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I should be very angry with you," she told him, beginning to lose the battle to keep her mouth from twitching.
She could see him relax as he realized that she wasn't actually upset. He brought his thumb up and rubbed his chin.
"So, what did I do?"
"You deliberately started that argument at midmeal, didn't you?" When he looked sheepish, she continued, "I can see it on your face. Every time you think I'm smiling too much, you pick a fight so the others will think we're still apart."
"That's not why I do it," he smirked, taking a step towards her.
She tossed her hair and grinned. "Oh? And what is the reason?"
Grinning, he took her hand and drew her out of Pilot's line of sight. "Because making up is so much fun," he told her, leaning forward to touch his lips to hers.
She closed her eyes in sheer pleasure at the taste of him, slid her arms around his neck and pulled him close, reveling in the touch and smell of John Crichton, so recently restored to her.
He shivered and his arms slipped from her waist to hold her tight, pressing their bodies together as their tongues explored each other's mouths....
When they finally came up for air, Aeryn nuzzled his nose with hers and whispered, "I love you."
John kissed her lips again, more gently, and said, "I love you too, Baby." He trailed his kisses down her neck and across her throat, hesitating as if he wanted to move lower, kiss the tops of her breasts where they showed above her tank top, but didn't quite trust himself to stop there. She shivered, and he roused himself to move on, planting kisses all the way up the other side of her neck, back to her mouth again.
"Mmmmm," Aeryn breathed, tossing discretion out the airlock and tugging his t-shirt out of his pants. She hiked the thin fabric up and ran her hands over the smooth skin and taut muscles of his torso. "You feel so good," she whispered into his mouth, hoping Pilot wouldn't forget to warn them if anyone approached.
"So," John said, punctuating his words with light, teasing kisses, "Was...I....right?"
"About what?" she asked, stilling her roaming hands and fitting her head into the hollow of his neck, knowing they needed to slow down.
He dropped a kiss on her head and liberated one hand from her rear to run his fingers lightly over her hair. "Making up," he said softly.
"Mmm-hmmm," she said, holding him close, memorizing the moment to replay later, when they went back to the game, pretending they no longer cared for one another. She wasn't convinced they were fooling anyone, but he was terrified of having her used against him.... With the stakes being the destruction of the entire universe, she couldn't really blame him -- and she knew she would take him on any terms she could get him, including these. At least now she knew the bond between them, however stressed it had been, was unbroken, and unbreakable.
As if he knew what she was thinking, he whispered, "It won't be like this forever, Aeryn, I promise. I promise."
"It had better not be," she told him, and added, teasing, "I'm stronger than you are, you know. One of these days, we may just find out if I can get those clothes the rest of the way off of you without your cooperation."
He ran his hands up her back and said, "Is that a threat, woman?"
"Take it any way you want," she said, giving him a light slap on the backside before backing away from him and tugging his shirt back down.
John took a microt to actually tuck the shirt in, and then took Aeryn's hand and walked with her over to Pilot's console. "Sorry for ditching you like that, Pilot. My mama taught me better manners than that, but...." He shrugged and gave Aeryn a lop-sided grin.
"Not a problem, Commander," Pilot assured them. "My attention was otherwise occupied," he added diplomatically.
"Well, Pilot," Aeryn said, "you have our full attention now. Was there some special reason you called us?"
"Only that things seemed rather....quiet....at the moment, and I didn't think you would be missed for a while."
Crichton wasted no time. "Pilot, my man, you are a true friend! If you don't need us, I've got something for Aeryn." The human slapped a high five on the nearest of the symbiot's claws, and then reached his hands over the console where he had been sitting when Aeryn arrived.
She watched, curious, as he flourished two spherical objects that each fit comfortably in the palm of one hand. Their color was orange, and as he abruptly tossed one at her, she realized they had an organic look to them, their shiny surface pockmarked with many tiny indentations.
She snagged the object easily in mid-arc, and hefted it in her hand, recognizing it for what it was: a fruit from his homeworld. Instantly wary, because they hadn't yet had the chance to talk about their unintentional and difficult visit to Earth, she looked from the fruit to John's face. He looked happy, she decided, and so she simply identified them for him: "Oranges."
He beamed, pleased that she'd recognized them. "Oranges. I wasn't sure if you'd had a chance to try them. On Earth."
She shook her head. "I didn't. But I saw some." She thought for a moment. "At your father's house. Livvy said they were good for juice?"
He cocked his head, smiled again, then said, "You can juice 'em. But this kind you can just peel and eat." He tossed his orange back and forth between his hands.
She stood, watching his eyes, certain there was something more going on than just a snack.
At last he said, "I completely forgot I had these. I finally unpacked my duffle this morning, the one I had at my dad's house, and there they were. Two oranges." He looked down at the fruit in his hand, and then up at Aeryn again. "From the tree, in my dad's backyard. When I threw things in the bag, after....well, when we had to leave in a hurry….I picked up two oranges."
She wrinkled her face at him, not understanding, and knowing he was trying to tell her something.
"One for me, and one for you," he said softly.
From his homeworld. From his father's house. To share with her. She bit her lip to keep from tearing up, and smiled at him instead. "So, how do you eat them then?" she asked.
He dropped down onto the floor below Pilot's console and spread his legs, patting the floor in front of him. "Come sit here, I'll show you."
She settled herself down happily in front of John and leaned back against his chest. After setting his fruit down on the floor next to him, he reached his arms around her and took hers from her hand, nuzzling her hair briefly before settling his chin on her shoulder so he could see what he was doing.
"Now, watch. It's got a thick covering called a peel, but it comes off pretty easily."
He dug his thumbnail into the top of the fruit. When he peeled part of the covering back, a pungent, sweet oil sprayed out, filling the air with a delicious scent.
Aeryn watched, fascinated, while he pulled chunks of the peel off and set them on the floor, wondering idly if it had occurred to John to bring something to clean up the mess.
"Here, you help," he said, and handed the half-naked fruit to her.
"It's messy," she told him, as her hands grew covered with the oil.
"But good, I promise," he assured her. "Hey, be careful," he added, when a spray of juice came shooting his direction as she dug in too deep.
When all that was left was a much smaller ball, covered with bits of white, John took it from her again and pulled it open. He separated a section and carried it up to her mouth. "Here. Take a bite."
She bit into it carefully, and was delighted to find it tasted very much like it smelled, sweet and juicy. "Mmm, that's delicious," she told him truthfully, mumbling slightly around the mouthful of fruit.
"Told you," he said smugly. "Here, have some more."
Mouth full of her second piece, she reached for the orange and separated another section off, then twisted around and held it out to John. He opened his mouth and she pushed it in, none too gently, and he snickered before he closed his mouth and started chewing.
"God, that's good," he sighed happily, reaching for another piece. When he bit into the section, it sprayed juice forward onto Aeryn's hair.
"Hey!" she said in mock indignation, wiping juice-covered fingers on his arm.
"Hey yourself," he replied, grabbing another piece from her hand. When she turned around again, laughing, she saw that he had the piece halfway in his mouth and was leaning down towards her. She reached her mouth up and bit her half off....
By the time they were through with both oranges, they had juice in their hair, on their clothes, and on their bare arms, but they were both thoroughly happy, if sticky. John got up and fetched some wipes and a box for the peels that he'd left with Pilot, and they tried to clean up themselves, each other, and the floor.
While he dabbed at Aeryn's hair, sniffing in hopes of finding the juicy spots, John told her, "My mother loved oranges. Wherever we lived, even if the climate wasn't right for them, my dad planted a tree...."
"I like your father very much," Aeryn said softly.
"He likes you too," John said into her hair.
"I'm glad," she told him, and they lapsed into comfortable silence while they used up the last of the wipes.
At last Aeryn said, "Well, my hands and face don't feel sticky, but we're both going to smell like oranges all day if we don't get some soap and water and change our clothes!"
"But you can't tell me it wasn't fun," John said.
"It was fun," she agreed, deeply content. Anything with him was fun these days, even fighting, now that she knew he still loved her, wanted her. But this, silly and messy as it was, moved her deeply. It was a just a hint of what they might have had on Earth, if things had been different, and it meant everything to her that he wanted to share it with her. Lightly, she told him, "We'll have to get more of those, one day."
He nodded and said, almost wordlessly, "One day." Then he wrapped her in his arms again, and covered her mouth with his. The kiss was deep, and loving, and tasted of oranges and Earth and the future.
When he let her go, they automatically nuzzled their noses together, and then John sighed and said, "You'd better go get changed."
Aeryn caressed his cheek and kissed him quickly and left, calling a goodbye to Pilot, before she could find an excuse to stay, and risk them being discovered. She'd play by his rules, because the future depended on it.... And she would harbor the taste of stolen kisses, and oranges, and John for all those times when they had to play the game.