But most of her walks ran around half an hour or so, and she rarely strayed out of Green Sector. Some days she listened to a little light music, but mostly she just let the thoughts in her head buzz down to a quiet hum, more inclined to listen to any conversations she might stray close enough to hear, as though she were a comet, zipping through one solar system after another, only getting a sense of who the planets were and how they were aligned.
"Oh my God," she heard quite often, and she had learned to not glance in the direction of the voice, which was invariably attached to a pair of staring, gaping eyeballs. It had been many months since her transformation, yet it seemed she regularly happened to walk past station inhabitants who had never seen her, or even heard of her. She just had to keep walking.
Today, though. Today had been a difficult day; long meetings, a great deal of tension. Delenn felt especially fractious as she walked - no, stalked - toward the zen garden. She heard a muttered comment ahead, followed by a titter of laughter, and couldn't help herself but to look up. Two Human women were walking out, and they gazed at her with a mixture of amusement and what seemed to be disgust. "What is that?" one of them said, and their sharp, acidic giggles as they crossed paths seemed to trail after Delenn, unwilling to allow her to escape so easily. Just inside the doorway, Delenn stood for a moment, eyes squeezed shut, fists clenched at her sides, struggling to catch her breath.
It wasn't vanity - it wasn't! But all beings had a desire to be respected, to be honored. That was only natural. A familiar pain, an ache for which she had yet to find a name, lanced her from navel to spine. For the first time, she considered no longer taking her walks.
"Delenn?" she heard, a familiar voice, but one that she could not have wanted to hear less at this moment. She opened her eyes to see John walking her way; he must have been sitting on the bench. They had found each other here a few times now, so she ought not have been surprised. He raised a tentative hand to her arm, though he did not make actual contact. A nagging voice broke through her consciousness, a voice that was not her own and yet was; a voice that she thought to be that of her lesser, base instincts and emotions. Do you think he hasn't thought the same things about you? He's too diplomatic to give them voice, but if you think he hasn't joked about you, laughed about you, then you know nothing, Delenn. Harnessing every last bit of her experience as not just an Ambassador but as Satai, she shook out her fists, she brought a thin smile to her lips, she let the day slip off her shoulders like a cumbersome dress.
"Yes?" As though he had not just seen her, as though he were mistaken. And for a moment, she might have succeeded. But John cocked his head, and his eyes met hers as though they had done so for decades. She lowered her own, and his fingers skimmed over her elbow. If he were not who he was, if she were not who she was, perhaps she would have confided in him. Perhaps she would have sought comfort. But she didn't have to - he knew, and his presence here was comfort enough.
"Have you eaten?" She shook her head. John looked somewhere over her left shoulder and grunted almost subliminally; Humans could display their thought process in the oddest of ways.
"I'll let you choose," she said, and he smiled at her, green-brown eyes twinkling. His hand slid around to her back - hovering more than touching - and she walked out, content to follow wherever he led. She wondered sometimes if that would end up being true in more ways than one.