Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, 6400 words, spoilers through the end of S3
Rating: PG-13, for language and adult themes
Time isn't linear. It doesn't move from Point A to Point B to Point C.
But neither is time a tree, a series of branches. That's still too simplistic a view by far, no more accurate than Niels Bohr's model of the atom. Because even a tree has only a finite number of branches, and the human mind can only conceive of so many things at one time.
John Sheridan did go to Z'ha'dum. He fell, and he died. He was remade. And that second incarnation was imperfect, and came with an inevitable expiration date. These things happened, and cannot be undone.
But that was not his only fate.
Time is a symphony, played by the biggest motherfucking orchestra in the universe. Every atom plays an instrument, and none of them speak to each other.
This is the way a world begins, not with a whimper but a bang.
And after, when this is finished, we will spend the night together.
As John stowed his uniform in the closet and hunted for a clean t-shirt to pull on, Delenn's words tumbled around in his head. Oh, she'd explained the ritual, and he knew nothing was going to happen tonight (damn it), but he couldn't stop thinking about it. Couldn't stop thinking about those few seconds after she'd brought up spending the night together, when he'd stared at her dumbstruck, a million images popping into his head, images he hadn't really been able to banish since.
When they returned to Babylon 5, it had been in the middle of the station's night. The decision had been made for everyone to grab a few hours of shut-eye before reconvening in the morning, to discuss what would come next. And then he and Delenn had walked up to his quarters. A nervous thrum of anticipation started building in his gut, and he couldn't stop touching her. In the corridors, he kept a hand at the small of her back, though once they made it up to Blue he reached down and took her hand, squeezing it. She gave him a tight-lipped smile that didn't look right on her at all, and John wondered if she were as nervous as he was.
In the lift tube, he grabbed her and kissed her hard. The smile she gave him then was a sunrise on a summer's day.
She was in the head now, changing. John ruthlessly drove away any thoughts he might have had about her fleetingly-naked body just a few feet away while he examined another t-shirt. This one was clean but there was a hole near the bottom; would she care about a hole? He tossed it aside and looked for another.
“John,” she said quietly from behind him, and he jumped a little. He hadn't heard the door swing open at all. She had on his old blue robe, which was way too big for her. He'd realized only after she'd disappeared into the head that Anna had given him that robe, years and years ago. One of those weird presents you get for someone in that in-between stage in a relationship, when you're expected to give presents on birthdays and holidays, but don't yet know the person well enough to know exactly what present to get. He had another robe in here, somewhere, some ugly plaid thing he'd gotten from his brother-in-law five or six years ago – what was it about giving robes as presents? He should probably wear it around his quarters while Delenn was here. Hell, she'd probably be into it.
She was looking at him like she thought maybe it was time to run away. Normally a regular old robe would be about the least sexy clothing item imaginable, save maybe an old pair of sweats, but on her it was, of course, completely enticing. Another wave of desire for her came over him, something beyond physical wanting, something elemental, electric.
He went to her, kissed her. He did his best to be a good boy, keeping some space between their bodies – especially their lower bodies. But he couldn't help but tangle his fingers in her hair, couldn't help but deepen the kiss, couldn't help moaning as she slid her palms down his chest. And then before he knew it, he had her shoved up against the wall, hands fumbling with the ties of her robe.
Delenn broke off the kiss, tipping her head back and taking a deep breath. “John,” she murmured, a definite edge to her voice.
“I'm sorry,” he gasped, taking a step back, but she reached out for him, grabbing the front of his white shirt, dragging him close again.
“I'm not,” she said, kissing him softly, gently. Delenn smiled at him, and John realized that she wanted him as much as he wanted her. For some reason it was a revelation, that she was physically attracted to him, and not just indulging his animalistic human needs. Before he could figure out what to do with that information, Delenn started unbuttoning his shirt. As she unfastened each button, she slid her fingers down the newly-exposed skin; by the time she made it to his waist, John felt like he was more aroused than he'd ever been in his life, though they'd barely done anything. Delenn retraced her path up his chest, just her fingertips, then slid his shirt off, hands running over his shoulders, then down his arms. She took one of his hands, leading him toward the bed.
“I should get dressed,” he said thickly. There was no way the extent of his desire wasn't perfectly obvious, standing there in just a pair of boxers. But Delenn didn't release him, so John followed dumbly after.
At the bed, a thrum of nervous energy began to build in his stomach. She's just going to watch me sleep, that's all. It's weird, but you can deal. But what if she saw something she didn't like? John figured that was the whole point of the ritual, though – you can't control what you look like when you sleep. He would be unconscious, exposed. He hated the idea that the future of this relationship might be decided on whether or not he snored.
Before he could climb into bed, Delenn put her arms around his waist, hugging him far too tightly for comfort. She buried her face in his neck, and John could feel her inhaling deeply. His body was tense, his muscles tight with the effort to keep from rocking his hips against her.
“It's easy for Minbari to go through the rituals without temptation,” she breathed in barely a whisper. John put a hand to her cheek, thumb under her jaw; he could feel the wild beat of her pulse. “I don't know if I can do this,” she whispered so quietly he could barely hear her, not even sure she was addressing him at all.
“You sleep here,” he said, “and I'll take the couch. We can do the ritual some other night.” But she shook her head, and before he could say anything else, she was kissing his neck, then sucking on a tendon there. One of her hands slid around his waist, cupped him through his boxers. “Delenn,” he moaned, reaching up for her shoulders, meaning to push her back before he lost his mind completely, but she stood on tiptoe, claiming his mouth again.
Ten minutes later, he was inside her, driving her into the mattress. She had abandoned English not long after he ripped the robe off, revealing her completely nude underneath; he had spent a full ten seconds staring at her breasts. When he bent to kiss one, she had gasped something in the Minbari language, and if there had been a point of no return for her, he thought she had crossed it then.
Now she stared up at him, eyes wide. One hand at the small of his back, the other at the back of his head, fingers locked in his hair. John kept trying to slow down, to be gentle, to make it last, but then her legs would squeeze around his waist, or she would squeeze him in other ways, or she would close her eyes and say something he couldn't understand, and he couldn't help but thrust into her wildly. He was on the knife's edge now, pressure building, trying to make sure she came first but unable to hold off much longer. He hooked his arm behind one of her knees, drawing her leg up, rocking up against her, trying to hit just the right angle. She tossed her head back, exposing the long white column of her throat. And maybe her orgasm hit her then, because she was keening some Minbari word over and over, but John wasn't sure. His own pleasure ripped through him, sharper and brighter than he remembered, so good it was almost painful, sensation lancing through him and he could do nothing but lower his head to her shoulder and give himself over to it.
At some point he managed to haul his body off hers, but John had no memory of it. And though he tried to not be that guy, sleep claimed him soon afterward.
His last thought was to wonder if she would still watch him tonight.
The whole way to his quarters, John never stopped touching her. He had never been this physically demonstrative with her before, not during the station's secession from Earth, not when she had been injured trying to shield him from harm, not really even after she had shown him the White Star fleet. The way he clasped her hand tightly struck her as oddly possessive; normally she would have expected to enjoy such a sensation, but tonight she just found it unnerving somehow. She rarely thought about their physical differences anymore, scarcely considered that they were still different species at all, yet his hand gripping hers as though she might stray away from him seemed to highlight his alienness. She caught him looking down at her and she tried to smile at him, but it felt stiff and foreign on her face.
Delenn was nearly ready to tell him that she didn't wish to hold hands in this way when they entered the lift tube; as soon as the doors closed, John grabbed her and kissed her until she ran out of breath. She had not kissed him so often yet that it was not still a revelation, and her smile was not at all forced this time.
His finger traced over where an eyebrow would have been, had she possessed them. It was an odd gesture, and she wasn't sure what it signified. Before she could ask him, the doors opened on his level, and he was dragging her toward his quarters, the corner of his mouth quirked up in a way that made her sure he was thinking lascivious thoughts. Worry streaked through her.
But once inside his quarters, John seemed ill-at-ease. He ran his fingers through his hair, which had grown quite long, she now noticed. They stood awkwardly before his sofa, and Delenn couldn't figure out what to do with her hands.
“Um, do you have anything to wear?” he asked, which was a foolish question. They had come straight to his quarters, and she had brought nothing with her. He seemed to realize this immediately after asking, and frowned in the direction of his bedroom. “I'll find you something.”
How could he expect her to wear any of his clothes? He was significantly bigger than she was, both in height and in breadth. But she only nodded absently, and followed him into his darkened bedroom.
Delenn had never gone through the sleep-watching ritual. And while it had seemed simple enough when she had explained it to John earlier, now she was wracked with uncertainty. Could she really sit beside his bed all night and only watch? Already she was tempted to throw it all aside and climb into bed with him, to wrap her body around his, to steal all his warmth and let him borrow her own. Instead she just stood at the foot of his bed, hands clasped before her, watching him mutely as he went through his closet.
He found a shirt of some soft material, a gray shirt that looked well-worn. The sleeves were short, though they would likely cover more than enough of her arms. John held it up. “Do you think this will be long enough?” After a beat, she realized he intended for her to wear the shirt and nothing more.
“I don't know,” she said softly. It was becoming difficult to formulate thoughts. What would he do if she announced that she planned to return to her own quarters? Perhaps he would take it badly, even if she tried to explain that she felt tonight was not the proper night for the ritual, that she was not canceling it but only postponing it. It would be best to stay in his quarters tonight, she thought, but maybe she should sleep on his sofa. Surely he would understand.
And then he dragged something from out of the back of his closet. Blue fabric, soft. John held it up so that she could see it – a dressing-gown.
Weeks ago, on Babylon 4. She'd given her time stabilizer to John, had been set adrift herself for only a moment. But what she had seen...
John's quarters are dark and still. She stands near the frosted glass doors to his bedroom, watching him sleep. His chest rises and falls in steady rhythm, and without realizing it, her breathing matches his own.
His shoulders and chest are bare. Delenn knows he is wearing something underneath the covers – what he called “shorts” – but it is easy to forget. And it is very easy to imagine what it would be like to share this bed with him. As Delenn watches, she cannot help but wonder how long they will have to wait until they are joined.
Assuming that John wishes for such a thing. She has not broached the subject with him. Delenn knows that he cares for her, that he is physically attracted to her. Does he love her, as she loves him? She thinks so, but is she certain? He wants her, yes, but does he want to be with her?
She does not know. But she hopes, oh, she hopes.
Delenn finds herself nearly dozing here by the glass doors, so she moves into the main living space. If she grows too sleepy, she is afraid the temptation to climb into his bed with him will become too great.
There is a bauble of some kind on the counter here. Clear glass enclosing a tiny simulacrum of human structures. Delenn lifts it for a closer examination, and sees that there is liquid inside. Tiny sparkles float in the liquid, stirring up as she tips the bauble over then rights it again. A smile comes to her face unbidden; what a strange little toy! She wonders if it is a toy from John's childhood.
The main door to his quarters opens. Surely she didn't trigger it? And it was locked anyway. But indeed, the door opens, and someone steps through. A woman. Her figure is dark, outlined by the bright light from the corridor beyond.
The dark woman says John's name.
Delenn drops the bauble, not even aware that her fingers have gone slack. The glass sphere strikes the floor and shatters. Sparkling liquid splashes the hem of John's blue dressing-gown...
John handed her the blue dressing-gown with a look in his eyes that told her he knew something was amiss. “Delenn?” he asked, and she forced a smile to her face.
“Do I wear this over the other?” she asked, just to have something to say.
“I didn't know if you were going to sleep at all tonight,” he answered, and then his eyes sought hers. “If you, y'know, wanted to get into bed later. You could take this off then.” Was that an invitation? But it was almost impossible to think at all, not with the blue dressing-gown in her hands.
She went into the small lavatory and locked the door. The woman looking back at her from the mirror had bright spots of color in her cheeks, a hectic look in her eyes. So it was to be tonight, then.
Ever since they had returned from Babylon 4, Delenn had gone over that glimpse of the future again and again in her mind. Was it a glimpse of something true? Was it the future that would only be if they failed in that mission upon the once-missing station? She had caught John staring at her a few times in the weeks since their return, and something told her he had seen something as well, but what, she did not know.
She had an idea, though. An awful idea.
The woman in his quarters, the dark woman whose face she had not seen...was it Anna? Had she finally returned from Z'ha'dum? Delenn could not begin to guess what that might mean, but the thought filled her with terrible foreboding. Had John seen Anna, as well? If so, the reticence he seemed to experience in spurts tonight, the way he had gripped her hand so tightly in the corridors, might be explained. Was he feeling torn between the two of them, even now?
Delenn took off her clothes, her dress and shift and stockings and underthings, hanging them inside the thermal washer so they would be clean and ready for her to put back on in the morning. As she removed each layer of clothing, she grew colder – not just goosebumps popping up on her skin, but a chill seeming to strike her soul. She could not stop seeing John – the looks he had been casting her since Babylon 4; his hand squeezing hers; his hesitation once inside her chambers. And by the time she stood there nude in John's lavatory, she had made up her mind. Quickly, before she could regret the decision and take it back, she put the gray shirt he had given her into the thermal washer as well.
She was left with the blue dressing-gown, hung carefully over the sink. The fabric was surprisingly soft against her bare skin, and a thrill ran through her. How strange, the way her body responded to the most inane of stimuli; that her nipples should harden and her pulse beat between her legs, only thinking of John in the next room. Delenn paused a moment, looking at herself in the mirror again, making sure the dressing-gown was securely tied, that she was completely covered up. Now the bright spots of color in her cheeks seemed appropriate, and he would not be able to miss the sparkle in her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she rejoined him.
Delenn could see his desire the moment she saw him again, and knew that it would require no effort on her part to entice him into bed. As she broke away from his kiss, though, as she let the moment draw out, as she let his desire build until she could be certain he would not turn away, she could not help but feel devious. Was this a lie, to not tell him her intentions? Your wife is alive, John, and she may already be on the station. I don't want her to take you back. “I'm not sure if I can do this,” she whispered, not intending for John to hear. He did, suggesting they sleep in separate rooms. That was too close to what she had seen. So she hugged him close, and kissed his neck, and it all happened very quickly after that.
When he took off the dressing-gown and stared at her with such bare lust in his eyes, Delenn forgot about Anna, forgot about everything else but this moment. There was no pain when he entered her as she had feared, just a pinch, an odd pressure, and then it was past. Then it was him, just him, the only object in her universe. As her pleasure built and built, exceeding anything she had ever managed to find on her own since her transformation, Delenn wrapped her arms and legs around him tight, claiming him in the words of her native tongue, needing him to hear them even if he didn't understand. And perhaps he did in some way, before he succumbed to his own pleasure.
After, as he fell almost immediately into a satisfied doze, Delenn draped herself half-over his body, resting her head atop his heartbeat, letting her heavy limbs trap him beneath her. He murmured something into her hair, an endearment of some kind, she guessed, though predictably, since it was a human endearment, it referred to food.
Was Anna heading for his quarters right now?
Delenn leaned up on an elbow, looking down at John's face. He was already asleep; soundly asleep, it appeared, his face slack and peaceful. In contrast, her own heart was racing, and some strange, atavistic urge coursed through her, making her want to find some solid stone walls to cower behind. (It must be nice to be fully human, where apparently such a feeling would make one want to find a club with which to beat someone over the head. Delenn would prefer to be proactive.)
“John,” she whispered. His mouth was turned down into a frown, and she wondered if he were already having a bad dream. She didn't remember what his face looked like in that brief glimpse she had had of this night before - had he been frowning? She didn't think he had.
Delenn kissed his lips gently, and now when she whispered his name, his eyes opened. The frown vanished so swiftly that it was hard to believe it had ever been there in the first place. “Sorry,” he said. “Didn't mean to.”
Was Anna close? She had somehow managed to secure direct access to John's quarters. She would not need to ring for admittance. She might be opening the door right now...
“I just wanted to tell you that I love you,” she said, her voice shaking despite herself. John looked up at her intently, reaching up to move a lock of hair from her face.
“I know,” he answered, and his voice was low and warm. His voice would be her stone wall. “I love you, too.” Delenn could not mask the relief that coursed through her at his words, and if he had not pulled her down for a dizzying kiss then, she would have kissed him herself.
They made love again, not the frenzied coupling as like before, but something deeper, richer. This time, after they had finished, and John relaxed into sleep, Delenn joined him.
John woke up suddenly, suffused with dread. His body was covered in gooseflesh, his testicles were drawn up, his muscles seemed knotted too tight to use, and a shout was locked in his throat. Delenn slept peacefully beside him, practically on top of him, and John had to fight the bizarre urge to throw her off the bed, throw the bed on top of her, and grab every gun he had.
Before he could do more than tighten an arm around her, he heard the main door to his quarters open. No one rang, and he could have sworn the door was locked to everything but his voice or Ivanova's emergency override, but he definitely heard it swish open. Despite the adrenaline pumping through his body, John told himself it was just Susan. Something had happened, and she had come to get him. That was all.
But the hackles on his neck told him otherwise. Sliding carefully out from under Delenn, John rolled over, reaching to his bedside table, to the gun in the drawer there. Whoever was in his quarters was walking straight to the bedroom, he could hear them, and another wave of dread rolled through him, so strong he was suddenly sure he would be sick.
His fingers closed around the gun. Delenn was stirring behind him. And someone was at the glass doors, just a black silhouette, and they were looking at him.
“John?” Delenn asked, her voice breathy and weak, like she'd just been punched in the stomach. He sat up, back against the wall, gun secure in his hand. He felt rather than saw Delenn pull the sheet up over her breasts.
The person at the doors drew in breath, a sharp gasp. It was an innocuous sound, really; it certainly didn't sound threatening in the least. John stared into the darkness of his quarters, shadows upon shadows, and that dark silhouette a shadow sliding through all the rest. “John?” someone else asked, and with just that one word he knew who it was, he knew, his bones knew, even as his brain threw a flag on the field.
“Lights,” he ordered in a hoarse voice. They came on with sudden sharpness, and he blinked against them for a second. And then he saw her.
She had a look on her face he'd seen only once before, when he'd gone out with some friends from the Academy the night before he was going to fly up to meet her parents for the first time, and he'd promised to be back early, and instead had stumbled in at dawn, absolutely shit-faced. She hadn't been angry, but she had just looked so disappointed in him, it was like she couldn't see straight. That was what she looked like now, like she had asked him to bring home a steak and he'd brought home roadkill instead.
“You're sleeping with someone,” Anna said. “You gave up on me.”
His knee-jerk response was to protest, to swear that he had never given up on her. But that wasn't true. Until Delenn had told him about the Shadows a year ago, had revealed the true fate of the Icarus, John had believed that Anna had died. It wasn't giving up if you were mourning a death, was it? Before he could start to feel guilty regardless – and hadn't Delenn assured him that there was no chance that Anna was still alive? – Anna's eyes slid over to Delenn beside him.
“Oh, God. God. She's not even human.” Was he hearing things, or was that revulsion in her voice?
“Hey,” John said, and he put the gun aside. While Delenn hiked the sheet up higher, John got out of bed and hunted down his boxers, pulling them on. He was damned if he was going to deal with...with this...buck-naked.
“Oh my God,” Anna practically moaned, retreating into the main room, shaking her head. John found his trousers on the other side of the room. He looked back at Delenn. Ah, there was the guilt that had yet to settle on his shoulders. It was written starkly on her face, dark lines on chalk-white skin. One hand held the sheet tightly bunched at her throat; the other twisted in the covers, clenching and unclenching. He felt intellectually that she should be angry at her right now, hadn't she kept him from going to Z'ha'dum with her vehemence? but instead John just felt a wave of love for her wash over him. For a heartbeat he wanted nothing more than to climb back into bed and kiss her senseless, kiss that drawn look off her face. Instead he tugged a t-shirt over his head and walked out of the room, carefully sliding the glass doors shut behind him.
Anna was sitting on the sofa, hunched over. Her shoulders heaved up and down, the way they did when she started crying and had a hard time breathing through her nose. But when she looked up at him, her face was dry, and her eyes were oddly dull. For a split-second, no more, John was positive that he wasn't looking at Anna at all, but instead some thing wearing a mask of her face. Before he could even shiver, she stood, and her bottom lip quivered.
“I'm sorry,” she whispered. “I didn't mean to be so...so racist, I guess. I just had this vision of what it was going to be like, coming to meet you, finally seeing you again. I had no idea.”
What could he say to that? John half-shrugged, waving a hand around in the air like a dead fish flopping, trying desperately to think of something to say that wouldn't sound idiotic or shallow.
“I thought you were dead, Anna,” he finally managed. Her face fell. And then, a calculating light entered her eyes. She sidled up to him.
“But I'm not dead, John. So it's all going to be okay now.” She came up to embrace him, and John backed away suddenly, feeling something akin to fear. He didn't want her to touch him.
What the fuck?
“John,” she said. Had her voice always sounded like this? He remembered her full, rich laugh, remembered her giving crisp orders to her team the handful of times he'd visited her on digs or in the lab; now her voice sounded weak, reedy. Again, that terribly disappointed look on her face.
“I'm...I'm with someone now,” he said. What a fragging nightmare this was. He never thought he'd have to tell his dead wife he had a new girlfriend. “Her name is Delenn.”
“Delenn,” Anna said. “Well, I think Delenn will understand that things have changed.” John didn't say anything. None of this seemed right at all. He'd always thought Anna and he were on the exact same wavelength; it had always seemed like he knew what she was going to say before she said it, and vice versa. It's why they had hit it off so quickly, why so much of their marriage had been so easy, even if it hadn't always been that passionate. But he had no idea what was going on now. He couldn't even guess.
Anna apparently took his silence for acceptance. “There's no time to waste, John. Come back with me.”
“Come back with you?” he repeated dumbly. He could hear the door to the head open and close. Was Delenn getting dressed? God, what could she be thinking right now?
“To Z'ha'dum,” Anna said simply.
Delenn had dressed in John's lavatory, her fingers shaking so badly she could barely fasten her dress. She had to get out of his quarters, had to get away from...her. Her skin itched and crawled as she remembered the look in the woman's eyes as she had glanced over at Delenn, her gaze sliding over Delenn's face, up to her bone crest. There had been something dark and dreadful in that look, a flash of raw hatred that had stabbed through to Delenn's marrow. She remembered it now, feeling nauseated.
She knew what would happen next, even though she had not seen it in a flash of portentous vision. John would come back to his bedroom, sliding the doors shut for a modicum of privacy. The woman would sit smugly, waiting for him. He would tell her that he cared for her, but the woman was his wife. Surely Delenn could understand? Maybe she would receive a chaste kiss on the cheek, as a farewell.
Even worse, he might be angry. He might blame her for the year and more that he could have been with her, blame Delenn for their long-delayed reunion. Delenn had certainly done her best to keep him from going to Z'ha'dum, carefully eliding over his attempt to make her unequivocally confirm that his wife was deceased. She simply did not think she could bear John yelling at her on top of everything else.
She had to get out.
It was all she could do to finish getting dressed, so anxious was she to leave. But then she had to contemplate opening the frosted-glass doors, had to bring herself to face that woman, to walk past her, to leave her here with John. Delenn bit back the sob that threatened to escape from somewhere deep in her soul. It hadn't made any difference, had it? She paused, taking several deep breaths, trying to center herself. When she was as calm as she thought she could be, she walked out of his bedroom, head down, adjusting the collar of her dress.
“Delenn,” she heard John say, but she would not look at him. Despite herself, her gaze flicked up to Anna. There was a look of raw triumph in the woman's eyes, and Delenn had to fight back the urge to strike her. She hadn't been so compelled to senseless, thoughtless violence since...well, since she had lost her last love, of course. So Delenn swallowed her impotent rage and kept walking, straight out the door and down the corridor outside, ignoring everything else she heard, ignoring the stares of those she passed, hearing only the lonely drum beat of her heart.
She looked up surprised when she realized she had walked to John's office rather than her own quarters. She didn't want to see him; foolishly some part of her believed that if she could only forestall his rejection, that maybe it would never happen. They could just meet again indifferently some time in the future, and she wouldn't have to hide the gaping wounds in her spirit.
But she didn't flee. She was too heartsick, too tired. There was no point in postponing the inevitable. Let her be gracious, let her be understanding. She feared there was something dark at work here; she could not believe that Anna Sheridan had returned from Z'ha'dum untouched, unscathed. Delenn had to remain collected, because there was no doubt John would continue to need her counsel. They still had a war to fight.
Who knew how long she waited until John found her? Delenn did not. He stood in the doorway and stared at her, his face a terrible blank. Would he sit down and explain? Would he accuse her of falsehoods? Would he rescind his earlier expression of affection? Delenn steeled herself for any eventuality.
“You told me not to go,” he said flatly. So it would be accusations, then. Delenn twisted her fingers together, forcing herself to breathe in and out before she answered. But he just walked to her silently, and as he reached her she couldn't keep from beginning to cry, hating the stupid human hormones that made her so prone to tears the past two years. John wiped them from her cheeks, then kissed the paths they had made. And then he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her up onto her toes, hugging her so tightly that she could scarcely draw breath.
John released her just enough so that he could look at her. She had never truly understood human mating practices before, thinking them to be terribly promiscuous and even animalistic, but she understood now. She wanted to do nothing more than to drag him off somewhere and...and...oh, there were no Minbari words for this...and fuck him until he knew that he was hers and hers alone. Her need for him was stronger than any need she had ever known before.
His fingers traced over her face, delicate, like the flights of spirits. “You begged me not to go,” he said, then he rested his forehead against hers. “So I won't.”
He came to her quarters that night. Anna was in Medlab, he told her. Stephen was administering tests. Everything seemed normal, he said, but he looked away from her then, and Delenn knew he was lying. She did not press him, though; he would tell her the truth when he accepted it himself. Stephen had found something, she knew, something that John could not yet believe.
After their lovemaking was over, as they lay entwined together in her bed, Delenn remembered his words earlier. “What did you mean,” she asked, “when you said I asked you not to go?” He didn't answer, and she looked up to see him frowning at the ceiling. She was afraid that she had told him this some time in the future, that he had seen it weeks ago. When would she beg him not to go to Z'ha'dum? “Did you mean last year, when I told you about the Shadows?” she asked, hoping against hope. She could not face this again, she simply could not.
“Yeah,” he said, sounding unsure. Then again, more strongly this time: “Yeah, that's what I meant.”
Delenn waited for him to fall asleep. She would slip out of the bed and watch him, just for a little while. But he remained awake, she could tell.
“What did you see when we were on Babylon 4?” she whispered. “Did you see anything?”
He was silent so long she thought he wouldn't answer. And then his hand came up to stroke her hair, and he kissed her forehead. “I saw a little boy and a little girl, playing together. They were outside, mountains behind them, mountains like I've never seen before. The sun was coming up, and the light was so clear, so perfect. They were ours, Delenn. Our son and daughter. They were beautiful.”
She hugged him tightly, determined never to let go. “What did you see?” he whispered into her hair.
What had she seen? For a moment, it seemed there was a blank space in her mind where the memory was supposed to be. Then she saw it, rising from a black mist, growing clearer and clearer, until she couldn't remember not remembering. Something cold worked its way up her spine. “I saw a dead planet, with Shadow vessels circling overhead. I think...” But she could not say it.
“You think what? What planet was it?”
“I think it was Earth.” Her body began to tremble. She remembered the shape of the continents, brown and lifeless, raised above flat, empty seabeds.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“No,” she lied.