Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, 2600 words
Three weeks after they moved to Minbar, Delenn fainted again, this time during their very first ISA organizational meeting. She had been standing, addressing the room, and John had just enough time to know that something was wrong before her eyes rolled back into her head and her shoulders slumped. He jumped up but he was at the other end of the table; it was her new Minbari aide, a teeny tiny delicate flower of a girl named Janinn, who managed to get an arm around Delenn's back and keep her from falling completely to the floor. Everyone else in the room crowded around, all wanting to help, and John had to shout to get everyone to back up and give her some space.
They called for the nearest doctor, but fifteen seconds of waiting was too much for John. He picked her up, her body so light in his arms, and carried her back to their quarters, where the doctor met them. By then Delenn had come around, and John had to talk her down from her worry that she had disgraced herself and the ISA as a result. “No one thinks anything is ruined. We'll just reconvene in a few days,” he said, keeping his voice reasonable, but she, of course, would hear nothing of it.
After the doctor arrived, he took her pulse and blood pressure, and drew some blood for tests. The next day he advised that she limit her official duties as much as possible, stay off her feet, eat extra protein, and rest every afternoon.
Delenn immediately contacted another physician. She was told the same thing. The third physician amended the other suggestions, advising that she rest every morning and afternoon, an hour each at least.
When John casually suggested that since three separate doctors all said the same thing, maybe she ought to listen, Delenn casually suggested that he find a new place to sleep. John called Stephen that night.
“I'm not saying you can't work,” Stephen said on the viewscreen. “You just have to be careful about how hard you work.” Delenn had her jaw set in a way that told John that it was a very good thing Stephen was a couple million light years away. “Ideally,” Stephen went on, “I'd like you to adopt a two-on, one-off schedule. After two hours on your feet, you need to spend one hour off. That doesn't just mean you continue to work sitting down. You need to rest, relax. Keep those stress levels down. Take up a craft, read, watch vids, whatever you want.”
John kept his eyes on Delenn's profile. As Stephen went on, bringing up things like knitting and even napping, that profile got scarier and scarier, until John was pretty sure she was going to kill him later. Kill him or castrate him. Maybe both. Hopefully in that order.
“So, did you have any questions?” Stephen asked with his trademark warm and comforting smile. It was like flinging a feather at a battleship.
“No,” Delenn said, and she switched the viewscreen off. Stephen wouldn't take offense, John knew, and that was the only reason he kept his mouth shut. Delenn still turned on him, though, staring at him for so long that John couldn't stand it anymore.
“Everything will be okay. I can handle the ISA stuff, and Lord knows the Rangers will trip over themselves doing whatever they can for you.”
Wrong thing to say. Wrooooooooooong thing to say. “So I am not necessary?” she asked with a frosty voice. His wife had vanished; the woman who had turned away half a dozen EarthForce ships with nothing more than her words stood before him, and John's testicles tried to tell him that now would be a good time to run.
“Of course you're necessary!” he exclaimed. “We all need you. But you also need your rest, and we'll manage, so you don't need to worry.”
“If you can manage, then I will leave you to it. I will go knit something.” The sarcasm and disdain were practically tangible. Delenn left, retreating into their bedroom, and John took the opportunity to enjoy the view as she walked away from him; he might not enjoy it for much longer.
Two weeks after that, and she did not do two-on, one-off, but she did take a break in the afternoon, and she even went to bed early most nights. The afternoon break wasn't as long a break as John would have liked, but he wasn't going to fight her about it, not as long as she stayed healthy and didn't faint anymore. And healthy she was – glossy skin, shining hair, no adorable little bump yet but her breasts had definitely filled out - and they were glorious. (He was not allowed to stare.) One day John dashed back to their rooms just long enough to grab a bite to eat – she had told him in no uncertain terms that if she had to, in her words, “be lazy” every afternoon, then he had to eat. And he had to do it in her presence, because she wouldn't believe him otherwise. (Because he was a liar.) Lunch was some kind of weird sandwich thing with some kind of Minbari bean paste and these stringy vegetables that looked like fennel fronds but tasted more like carrots, Janinn had made it and she was working quietly in the parlor adjoining the dining-slash-meeting room so John couldn't wolf it down but had to pretend that he liked it. Delenn ate her own sandwich along with a bowl of soup, eyes downcast, subdued.
“You feeling okay?” he asked. Two more bites to go. Delenn idly stirred her spoon through the soup in figure-eights, then shrugged, a decidedly un-Delenn gesture.
John finished the sandwich, a Herculean effort, then reached over to put his hand on top of hers. “I know you're not happy with the resting thing. I'm sorry.”
She shook her head. Bit her bottom lip. Then a big fat tear spilled down her cheek. John would have happily committed seppuku with his butter knife at that moment if it would have put a smile back on her face; instead, he just squeezed her hand. “It's not that,” she finally whispered. A long, long pause, and John thought of all the things it could be instead. She hated being pregnant; she hated being pregnant and wanted to terminate the pregnancy; she liked being pregnant but hated him; she liked being pregnant and liked him but hated Minbar. He worked his way up to she liked being pregnant and liked him and liked Minbar but hated the ISA and all it stood for when Delenn finally sighed and wiped away the errant tear, returning to her soup.
John waited. Nothing.
“So what is it, then?” he prodded. Delenn shook her head. “Is there anything I can do?” Now she scoffed, laughed a bitter little laugh. “I mean it!”
“John, can you carry the baby?”
Well. “After you've carried him to term and delivered him, then yes.”
“I do not need your sarcasm.”
“Isn't it nice, though? To just relax every day? To kick back your feet and sit down and do whatever you want?” John was sure he'd had lazy days at some point in his life, but he could no longer remember them. He supposed they had been nice.
“Of course,” she answered, sounding unbearably exasperated. “It's wonderful. But...”
“But I'm not the only one whose head implodes.”
The faint wrinkle in her forehead and her downcast eyes were all the answer he needed.
And that was why, a week later, when her morning sickness had vanished, when winter had settled in and the residents of Minbar agreed by long-standing cultural tradition to huddle inside their homes as much as possible, and when the ISA's Charter was formally ratified (and John finally had an actual job), they started making love every single afternoon.
And sometimes in the morning, too.
Delenn was laying on her back. Not flat on her back, because they were on one of her godforsaken slanted monstrosities – upon which she was supposed to sleep for the duration of her pregnancy, according to her personal physician, and by God was his word gospel in this case. John was on his side, tracing lines and circles and arcs and squiggles all over her abdomen. He thought she was starting to show; she insisted that he was delusional.
“Do you know what today is?” John asked, grinning up at her. She had been gazing down at him, idly drawing her fingers through his hair, quite possibly his favorite thing in the universe (that wasn't sex). Now she looked up at the ceiling, her eyes taking on a slight far-away cast that told him she was thinking. And she kept thinking. And thinking. Finally...
Approximately a million years later, when John finished laughing, he dragged himself up the bed and kissed her soundly. Apparently it only took a month away from Babylon 5 and its Earth-centric calendar system for Delenn to forget it completely. “No, no, that's not what I mean,” he said through isolated giggles he was unable to control.
“Am I right, though?”
He found his tablet, checked – it was Thursday. She huffed.
“Is it some silly Earth holiday? Do I need to make you flarn shaped like hearts? Except your hearts don't even look like hearts, hearts don't have points. Not even Centauri hearts.”
John kissed her again, drawing it out. Sometimes it still felt like a novelty to kiss her, as though he were doing it for the very first time. He wondered if he'd ever stop feeling that way. “Not a holiday, except for us. Exactly one standard year ago today, we got married.”
Delenn grew very quiet then, staring into his eyes. The tips of their noses were nearly touching, so this was an intense stare. She raised her hand and rested it on his cheek; the metal of her wedding band was cool against his skin. “It seems like so much longer ago than that,” she finally whispered.
“I know.” And it wasn't just their marriage – John sometimes couldn't believe he'd only known her for a little over four years. He felt like she'd been a part of his life for decades. A few weeks ago he'd remembered something that had happened on the Agamemmnon and had almost asked her to corroborate before it occurred to him that she obviously would have no idea, she'd either been on Babylon 5 at the time – still fully Minbari – or she'd been on the Grey Council's ship doing whatever it was they did. But it was so strange, to think of a time before Delenn.
“This is an occasion to be celebrated?” she asked, in that quiet, delicate tone she used when probing Earth culture. It was a tone that said, if you, as a strange, hairy ape creature, would like to do this ridiculous thing, I will go along with it, because I love you, though sometimes I do not know why. John nodded. “And how is this day celebrated?”
“Well, it depends.” It was on the tip of his tongue to describe how he and Anna had celebrated their first wedding anniversary; he swallowed that thought without a moment's hesitation. Delenn was remarkably understanding in nearly every matter, but his former wives and any mention of them in that context tended to make her a little prickly. He and Anna had recreated their first date for their first anniversary, complete with drunken groping outside the French restaurant. This time she had laughed so hard she'd thrown up a little, which would have been a game-ending proposition on a first date, but that night had seemed to be the epitome of why he had loved her.
He and Delenn had had a first date of sorts, but it had been so constrained by their respective positions, the fact that everyone in the restaurant knew exactly who they were, the shyness she still felt after her transformation and his own awareness of that fact, that it hadn't really felt like a date at all. In truth, most of their early encounters, intense and personal as some of them had been, hadn't been all that romantic. He didn't think Delenn wanted to recreate that time some crazy five hundred-year-old serial killer had tortured her and they'd snuggled on John's couch afterward.
There was a little twinkle in her eye that told him to quit wool-gathering. “Dinner, a movie, walking along the beach under a full moon,” he said. “Stuff like that.”
She hummed a little, kissed the tip of his nose. “Do you want to go out to dinner tonight?” she asked, a warm indulgence in her voice.
“Where to?” Minbar wasn't big on restaurants. There were plenty of cooks to prepare your food, but they usually came to your house rather than the other way around. He didn't really feel like going out, though. It was cold as hell today, and John realized as he thought about it that he was covered in goosebumps. He grabbed the quilt at the foot of the bed and dragged it up over their bodies. After a beat, it pulled it up over their heads, too. Delenn laughed. “Blanket Restaurant,” she said, cuddling up close.
“Party of two.”
An hour or so later, while Delenn's breathing returned to normal, he ventured out just long enough to call Janinn, asking her to cancel everything they had planned for the evening. There hadn't been much anyway. He put in his dinner request, then hurried back to the bed, climbing on top of Delenn and just laying there until she squealed. Sometimes lately he wasn't up for Round Three, but today he most definitely was, and he didn't think it had ever been so good. “If you weren't already pregnant...” he muttered into her neck, and she wrapped her legs tighter around his waist.
As the Minbar winter day ended early, twilight striking with sudden force, John opened their bedroom window a crack and threw another blanket on the bed. The wind that blew down from the mountains to their south wasn't as cold as it would be in another few months, but it was cold enough. Delenn molded her body to his, stealing all his warmth. John gladly gave it to her.
“What other days are we supposed to celebrate?” she asked, her voice sleepy, which made her accent grow thick and do things to him. John thought of the list. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries. Days of their own choosing, too. The first time they kissed. The anniversary of their engagement (though that had been a little fubar). And, of course, the birth of their son, which would be coming before they knew it. At that thought, John rubbed his hand over her belly again. She giggled and snorted at the same time. “You've already knocked me...oh, what is it? In?”
“Yes,” he agreed.
“Stop trying to make me say the wrong thing,” she groused. “It's up, isn't it. Knocked me up.”
“I like when you say the wrong thing.” He kissed her like his life depended on it. “If this is celebrating, then let's just celebrate something every single day.”
She answered with hands and lips, strokes and kisses. Outside the winter wind huffed and puffed, but their house was made of stone, and their bed was warm.