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24 July 2011 @ 10:15 pm
Fic: Three Letters to John  
Title: Three Letters to John
Specs: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; Babylon 5; Fringe
Rating: PG

John,

Your father once told me that keeping you safe was the only thing that mattered. He was right, but not in the way he thought.

The house is quiet right now. You're asleep, Derek is asleep, and Cameron is walking the perimeter. The only sound I hear is the pen scratching on the paper, and the tick of the clock in the next room. It's strange how quickly these houses feel like homes to me. There have been dozens, maybe more than a hundred, over the years. It's never been safe to stop in one place for too long. But as long as I know you're sleeping - in the next room, on the couch, upstairs – then I know I'm home.

Keeping you safe has been the only thing that's ever mattered to me. For Kyle, keeping you safe meant saving the world. Keeping you safe meant preserving a future for the human species. Keeping you safe meant that he died for a purpose. But that's not why I've kept you safe.

You're my son, and that's all that matters. Sometimes I think I wouldn't care if the rest of the world burned to nothing, as long as you were safe.

Dawn is only an hour away. By the time the sun rises, I'll be gone. There's one more thing I have to do, to keep you safe. I may not come back. If I don't, know that I love you – not because you're the future savior of the world, but because you're my John.

***

John,

Once I told you that there were fifty rituals remaining until we could seal ourselves together. You looked very disturbed at the thought, and I worried perhaps you would not want to go through what to you must have seemed quite an ordeal. But these past few months you have gone through each of the rituals, by my side or on your own, if not with a smile then at least with love. It has meant more to me than I can ever express.

Now there is but one ritual remaining. This ritual began, like so many others in Minbar's history, in the distant past - before data crystals, before wires and cables, before even print. Lovers exchanged hand-written letters of devotion. The first such set of letters were exchanged between a religious acolyte and a warrior-in-training. The acolyte was preparing to take her vows to become a Sister of Valeria, in a remote temple high in the mountains. Once this happened, she would enter seclusion and never see her lover again. She wrestled with her feelings for three days and three nights, taking no food or water, praying before an unlit candle. Deciding that she needed to know if his feelings for her were true, she finally lit the candle and wrote him a letter. In the letter, she told the warrior how much she loved him, how much she wished to spend her life with him; she also told him that she felt the universe had placed her exactly where she should be, high in the mountains, away from temptation and sin and the follies of mortals, to devote her life to service and study. She asked him to reply as soon as possible and tell her truly of his own feelings, so she might best determine her path.

It was an arduous trek for the messenger who delivered the two letters – one journey down the mountain, another back up. No doubt you are expecting to hear that the warrior wrote the acolyte and told her that he loved her so much he could not release her to the Sisters. He did write to her of his love, yes, but he told her that she should not ignore her calling. If the universe had conspired to bring her to that remote mountain temple, then that was where she should remain; he would love her nonetheless for never seeing her again.

This is why the final ritual is so important, John. There should be no doubts before we join our spirits, our bodies, our blood. We should both know for certain that we are precisely where we should be. I know that right now you are clutching these sheets of paper too tight, afraid that I will tell you that I have duties elsewhere; I know that you are worrying that I will tell you that in the end, we simply cannot cross the divides between us.

Do not worry! My love for you remains undiminished. In fact, my love for you seems to grow each day, until I fear that I will burst. Any duties that would take me from your side are duties that I cannot perform. And to be honest, I do not fear that you will write me anything less – but the ritual must be done. Our letters will not travel down any mountains, but they journey a great distance even so – between Human and Minbari, between war and peace, between the past and the future.

I look forward to making that journey with you.

***

John,

You've been dead a year.

Some days, it only seems like it's been a few weeks since the last time I saw you. I expect you to walk through the door any time. My phone rings, I think maybe it's you.

Other days, I can't remember what you looked like or what you sounded like. All I remember is a body transparent and blue, like it's made out of water. I remember listening to a tape recorder and feeling my heart drop down to my stomach. But I don't really remember you. It feels like you've been dead years and years.

I still love you, though. I don't know why. You ended up like him. You were supposed to protect me and care for me, but instead you betrayed me. I shot him, I got you in a car crash. Pretty much the same thing. Maybe I still love you because you ended up like him. Maybe that's the only kind of man I can really love.

When I was at the Academy, we had mandatory psych screens twice a semester. Wanted to catch the burn-outs before they jumped in the river or something, I guess. My first time walking in, I told myself I wasn't going to let a shrink dig around in my head. But I suppose kids with damaged childhoods are prone to enter law enforcement, so I'm not exactly anything special - the shrink had me dead to rights within five minutes. She told me to write a letter to him, to my stepfather. Tell him the things I never got a chance to. It worked, as well as anything like that can work. That's why I'm writing this letter to you, even though you're dead.

There's a new man, Peter. I met him trying to save you. Sometimes I think I might be falling in love with him. Most times I just think that I'm lonely, and he's the closest man there is. I don't know. I try to compare the two of you in my head, and all I can think is that I wish it hadn't turned out like this. My life was pretty good, and once you died it became so complicated, and there are nights I can't sleep until I've drunk myself nearly to black-out. I think I hate you just as much as I love you, and it makes me wonder if maybe those two emotions aren't just the same thing.
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singer_shaper: women warriorssinger_shaper on July 26th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
I haven't watched Terminator, but I really like Delenn's and Olivia's letters. Your backstory in Delenn's is consistent with the way Minbari customs and philosophy were portrayed in the show, and I especially like the line about the metaphorical distance the letters are traveling. Olivia's is obviously different - I honestly don't remember the first season, so I can't call to mind the depth of her feelings for John Scott, but I find the last line intriguing. Thank you so much for sharing this!
enigmaticblues: delenn/sheridanenigmaticblues on July 26th, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
I haven't watched Terminator, but I do love Delenn's letter to John. It's just the right mix of history and tradition and emotion. I love the parallels, and the fact that we know John and Delenn aren't going to stay on their separate mountain tops.

Also, even though I haven't watched S3 of Fringe yet, I do love Olivia's letter. It captures so much about her character, and it is so poignant.
SONGHAYsonghay on August 15th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully done. I only resd the John/Delenn letter, of course, but I loved the ritual you created. It was very creative and so in line with Minbari thinking and practice. Nice work.