Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, 1400 words
Rating: PG for language
A/N: For cartography
The first year John knew her, Delenn seemed to be some kind of flawless angel, full of wisdom. She always said the right thing, always waited to hear all of the information and evidence before making a decision. She wasn't quick to anger, she wasn't rash. Even when she was called names, shunned, threatened, tortured, she never lashed out, never sought vengeance. At times it was hard to believe she was real, even when he held her in his arms, her heart beating furiously against her ribs, he could feel it against his palms, that steady drumbeat he felt sure was the rhythm of the universe.
The second year he knew her, John saw her power. He saw the core of steel and adamant that lay hidden beneath shining dark hair and dove gray eyes. He saw a woman who would walk through fire if it were necessary to save what was good and right. A woman who would stand as a shining beacon against the forces of darkness. A woman who made him want to fall to his knees in worship. Now she was real to him, flesh and blood, but he didn't feel worthy. How could he touch her, hold her, kiss her? He did it anyway, feeling like a man stealing fire from the gods.
The third year he knew her, Delenn was his everything. His touchstone, his constant. Yet it seemed he hardly saw her. She went back to Minbar, then he went to Mars. She became something outside himself, some measure of a life that he worried he would never experience again. Every time he saw her, time stopped, just for a moment, and everything else ceased to exist. Then they were apart again, and every day became another day to mark off until he saw her again. A hallway on a White Star, clutching her body to his desperately, John vowed they would never be separated again.
The fourth year, Delenn was his wife. He fell asleep beside her each night, awoke with his limbs tangled up with hers. She was still the angel, still the Valkyrie, still the defining feature of his life, but she also became a person in a way he'd never really thought of her before. She hogged the head in the morning; she plucked the dozen stray hairs that grew on her legs, complaining the whole time as though it were somehow his fault; she threw up on her period and he had to hold her hair back, carry her to bed, and clean it up.
And it wasn't until he knew her for four years that John realized just how much Delenn loved cursing.
Not in any of the Minbari languages, of course. That would be improper. But apparently English swear words didn't count. She'd cursed once before in front of him, down on Epsilon Three. Absofragginlutely, dammit. Adorable, and he was instantly back in the garden, her hand covering his. But maybe she guessed from his response that what she said hadn't been quite right, because he'd never heard her swear since, not till after the wedding.
The first time, they had been married only a week, still figuring out their living arrangements. She was in his quarters, fiddling with the kettle, trying to make tea. At first, John didn't think he'd heard her right.
“What was that?” he asked, looking up from his paperwork.
“I said I will break this fragging thing into a hundred pieces,” Delenn answered in a matter-of-fact voice. She continued pressing buttons, not looking his way at all, so she didn't see his eyes bug out, his jaw fall slack. Did she really say that? Really?
A few days later, her hair tangled. The brush got caught at the bottom, twisted around. She tugged at it with a grimace. “Oh, you bastard!” John quietly helped her work it loose, then scratched her scalp with his fingers until she sighed. Maybe I misheard her. Maybe 'bastard' just sounds exactly like some other Minbari word.
One night in bed, as he kissed his way down her body. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” she murmured, and he stopped and stared and kept staring until she reached down, grabbed him by the hair, and shoved his mouth back where she wanted it.
After a long meeting, after a long day, after a very long week. She came home, they were in her quarters tonight, and she tried to take off her outer robe at the same time she kicked off her shoes, and ended up losing her balance, stumbling into a little table. One of her crystal knick-knacks flew off, hitting the floor with a thud. “Son of a bitch!” she cried out, and her arms got tangled in the robe, and John couldn't help it, he laughed. It was just too weird, so unlike the image he had of her, even now, a month into their marriage. He laughed until he saw her eyes, burning holes into his head. “I would never have guessed you'd have such a dirty mouth,” he said, trying to look serious, failing completely. Finally she got the outer robe off, letting it drop right there on the floor. She bent over, grabbed the knick-knack, stuck it back on the table (still all in one piece), and stormed into the bedroom. The doors slid shut with a resounding click. John waited and waited, and when she didn't come back out he went in after her.
She was in the shower, and though their showers weren't really big enough for two, he squeezed in anyway. John slid his arms around her from behind, soapy slick skin, and he kissed her ear. “I like your dirty mouth,” he said, and he felt rather than saw her smile.
Some time next week, at dinner. They were both working, the ISA seemed to eat up time like a rogue black hole, and they both muttered to themselves without paying any attention to the other. Then she jabbed her stylus at her tablet with more force than was necessary.
“Delenn?” he asked, wondering if he could help. Every now and then she still ran into an English word she wasn't familiar with, or an idiom. But she just shook his head.
“This trade agreement is a shit,” she said, glowering at the tablet.
“That isn't...” John started, then stopped. That isn't how you use that word, he was going to say, but she was looking up at him, her smooth brow raised, a question in her eyes. And John absolutely could not bring himself to say anything to her, because he had come to realize that he loved her occasional English swearing more than just about anything, and even more so when she was wrong. “That trade agreement will be the death of us,” he said instead, and she nodded and went back to work.
Pacing in front of Stephen and him, a tiny cyclone of fury. “Bastards!” Then she collapsed. Fear and worry and relief and worry and joy and worry. Now he sat beside her on the bed, holding her hand, and he thought she knew before he said a word. “You're pregnant,” he whispered, and suddenly he was grinning so broadly it hurt his face. She'd worry later, too, he knew. For now, she grabbed for him, arms around his shoulders, fingers digging into his back. “Oh, John,” she gasped, and they held each other.
But a few days later, morning sickness. She retched into the toilet, and he hovered anxiously in the doorway, unsure what exactly she wanted him to do. Then Delenn looked at him, pointing a finger, and how she could be so scary sitting on her knees on the floor in front of a toilet, sucking in air, face splotchy and flushed, John didn't know, but she was scary, there was no doubt about that. She poked that accusing finger his way. “You miserable ass-jerk, this is your fault,” she choked out, and then she retched again. John ran into the living room, grabbed a cushion, and shoved his face into it. Trying to stifle the laugh was so difficult his chest hurt. Ass-jerk. Dear God, ass-jerk.
He had never loved her more.