Specs: Babylon 5, Susan and Delenn, 1600 words
Summary: Susan sees Delenn for the first time after the Chrysalis.
She passed John on her way out of Blue Sector to grab something to eat. He was wandering back to his quarters, and Susan actually put out a hand to stop him when he seemed ready to walk right past her without a word. “Hey. Did you get the message from your sister?”
The eyes he turned her way were a little glazed. If she didn't know any better, she'd think he was drugged. That thought found itself turning into a theory as he smiled a decidedly non-John Sheridan smile. It wasn't his usual thousands-of-white-teeth grin, but something sort of...fluffy. Then the fluffy smile disappeared as he frowned. “Wait, what?”
“Your sister. She's waiting for you in your quarters. I let her in.”
“Right. No, that's good.” Back came the fluffy smile, and Susan let him get almost ten paces behind before she remembered that he was still in his dress grays.
“John!” He turned a vaguely-flustered look in her direction. “How did the meeting go?” And there it was, the John Sheridan special, a grin so bright it could probably run the station if they could figure out how to hook him up.
“It went well. I met Ambassador Delenn.” John shook his head a little, that big goofy shit-eating grin practically blinding her, and then he left. Susan stood there for a moment, right in the middle of the corridor, consumed with such outrage that she could barely speak.
“Why didn't anyone tell me she was out?” she demanded. The empty hallway didn't answer.
By the time Susan made it to Red Sector, thoughts of food were the last thing on her mind. She knew that Delenn was likely to be tired and out-of-sorts, but Susan kept walking anyway, headed to Green. Once there, she noticed that there were definitely more aliens milling about than usual. They sounded like they were all practicing to be background extras in a vid - the various languages they spoke, any one of which Susan might have been able to work out with her polyglot mind, all melded together into one droning hum of utter nonsense. But she caught a couple words and phrases, and one in particular made her hackles rise. She looked like a monster!
By the time she finally reached Ambassador Delenn's door, Susan wasn't sure she wanted to see her. Not that she was worried about finding Delenn monstrous, however her transformation had turned out – Delenn was a truly beautiful person inside, one of the few Susan knew, and given time, she knew she would see her that way outside as well. Delenn certainly didn't strike her as a vain person, but if the time in her weird Minbari cocoon thing had done something to her, could she help being upset about it? People showing up on her doorstep wanting to gawk would be the last thing she'd want.
So in the end, Susan didn't ring asking for entrance. She just buzzed the recorder – if Delenn had gone to bed, her message would be saved for the morning. And if not, well, maybe it would do her some good to hear it.
“Ambassador Delenn? It's Susan Ivanova. I just wanted to...let you know that I'm here, if you need anything. Doesn't matter what. I'll see you when you're ready, okay?” She felt like she needed to say something else, but she didn't know what. She'd never been big on the flowery and girly. If she'd been in the same room with Delenn, this would probably have been the moment she would have awkwardly patted her on the back, like she had just grown hands and didn't know what to do with them yet. Susan had already turned on her heel when the door clicked open.
Delenn was inviting her inside.
Susan entered slowly. Delenn's quarters were dark, save for a few candles burning here and there. Delenn hadn't said a word, still hadn't said even a single word, even after the door cycled closed and Susan just stood there waiting for her eyes to adjust. The unusual and unwelcome sensation of fear tickled up Susan's spine.
Then the door to the head at the back of the bedroom opened, flooding the quarters with suddenly-bright light. A woman stepped out, a woman with rosy cheeks and dark spills of hair, a woman with laughing gray eyes and and a slightly-sheepish smile.
“I am sorry for making you wait, Lieutenant Commander,” the woman said with Delenn's voice, and Susan knew her eyes were starting to bug out of her skull but couldn't do a thing about it. “I must admit, I was looking at myself in the mirror. It will take quite a long time to become acquainted with this new image.” Now Susan could see the ivory curve of a modified bone crest encircling Delenn's head like some kind of fairy crown, and she could see the more slight changes to Delenn's face – the raised and smoothed brow ridge, the narrowing of the top of her nose. Still no eyebrows, but somehow that absence seemed to heighten the still-alien beauty of her face, as well as the shock of all that dark hair. Something thrummed through Susan's stomach, like a guitar string being plucked.
“No, it's...” she started, aware of one floppy fish hand flopping about in the air, trying to help her say something, anything, but also receiving no help from her brain, like her stupid mouth, still hanging open. “It's fine. So. You're out of the Chrysalis.” Thank you, Lieutenant Commander Obvious. Delenn only smiled, and walked forward a few more steps, lighting extra candles.
Susan couldn't stop staring at her. Delenn had to notice, had to feel that stare burning into her, but she didn't say a word. And if Susan couldn't stop staring at her, what would it be like from everyone else, in the days and weeks to come? Delenn leaned over, lighting a candelabra on a low table. She put up a hand, unconsciously it seemed, to push one of those dark curls back behind her shoulder. Again that thrum through Susan's stomach.
Susan had prided herself for a very long time on how fiercely she regimented her mind. Duty was duty, work was work, free time – what little she had of it – was free time, and romance was something altogether different, best shunted aside into a dark, forgotten corner, because honestly? When was the last time romance had worked out? Susan was so used to keeping her thoughts and desires in order that she no longer thought about it, except to wonder if perhaps she weren't slowly calcifying into an asexual organism, and this sudden flood of desire was enough to make her ears stop working. She saw Delenn murmur something to her, and Susan nodded dumbly – Delenn went to her little kitchenette, putting on a kettle, so Susan could only surmise she had asked about tea. Susan hadn't heard it.
She had been thinking about how much she wanted to lead Delenn back into her bedroom. How much she wanted to slide that robe off her shoulders, see if any of the rest of her body had changed as well. Maybe it had been the effect of her official Minbari clothing, which had always made her look a bit flat and blocky, but the human robe Delenn was wearing now seemed to highlight every maddening curve hiding from sight. Susan wasn't a breast lady, or an ass lady, or a legs lady – she was a liminal lady, captivated by the transitions from one part of the body to another. The smooth plane of the abdomen leading up to the bloom of breasts; waist flaring to hips; following the line of the spine down, down, down. As Susan watched, Delenn fussed with the tie of her robe, fabric shifting against her form. Susan's hands twitched, wanting to feel that form under her palms.
When a sudden mental image of Delenn beneath her, writhing against silken sheets, popped into Susan's head unbidden, she knew it was time to make her escape. She carefully inched her finger over to press a button on her link, opening up a line; she hit the button twice more, to send a call through to Security, knowing that Garibaldi was on duty right now. Beep. “Ivanova, go ahead,” she barked. There was a pause, and as Delenn's head slowly swung around, Susan could only hope that Michael didn't frag things up.
The pause lengthened. Then finally, “Yeah, we've got some suspicious activity in the Zocalo. Could use some fire support.” Bless him.
“Be there in ten.” She sighed, and shrugged her shoulders at Delenn, who nodded and smiled in the sweetest, most understanding way. Susan turned for the door, but stopped before it had a chance to pop open. “Ambassador? Delenn? I meant it. If you need anything, just let me know.”
“Thank you, Susan.”
With that, Susan made a hasty exit. A big gulp of the outside air to try and get herself under control; she knew that once back in her quarters, she'd need a big gulp of something a bit stronger if she was ever going to get to sleep tonight. First, though, she needed to thank Garibaldi, whose instincts had been, as usual, unerring.
Halfway there, Susan realized there was a smile on her face. Not a big smile, but a sort of...fluffy smile.