Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, 3600 words
Rating: R for sexytimes
NB: Sequel to Keeping the Shadows at Bay, though it is not required reading
The last month had been pretty great, all things considered. The same old shit most of the time - fights and battles and wars, and that wasn't even counting what was going on between the Narn and Centauri. The business with Talia had been rough on all of them, but especially Ivanova; Sheridan wasn't quite able to figure out why that was. He hadn't known they were that good of friends. But before each day started and after each day finished, and a few lucky times in between, he had time alone with Delenn, and that made every day a good day in his book.
They ended up never having an actual conversation about it. That first day after the Markabs died, that long day spent putting out one fire after another, he had returned to her quarters to spend the night again. The idea that he wouldn't have stopped to see her was absurd; the idea that he would have stopped to see her and then gone back to his own quarters to sleep alone was even more ludicrous. She had greeted him with a kiss, and Sheridan knew at that moment that whatever opportunity he might have had to turn back vanished as he stepped into her arms.
There had been lots of kissing since then. Sometimes he felt like one of the old explorers, jumping off a boat into the surf, making his way up the beach, and planting his flag. I claim this woman's lips in the name of John Sheridan. They had first base down to a science. Sleepy kisses in the morning. Pecks on the cheek as they left for work. Hurried, secret kisses in the corridors before Council meetings. Long, languid kisses on the couch at the end of the day. Playful kisses when she teased him for leaving his link in her quarters again. Sweet kisses after she confessed that the last time she'd been kissed had been before the war, and all she'd been able to think about at the time was what she was supposed to do with her hands. Passionate kisses when his hormones and that damned caveman in the back of his brain mounted a protest.
He'd gotten to second base once, when he'd managed to get one of his thighs between hers at just the right angle to override her moral principles, and she'd let him feel her up for five glorious minutes. Sheridan wasn't in any huge hurry, though he didn't want to wank in the shower all by himself every morning for too terribly much longer. (She'd come into the bathroom a few mornings ago when he'd been about three strokes from climax, and he'd had a horrible flashback of Jesus Christ, Mom, why can't you knock! Which really wasn't the reaction to have when your girlfriend caught you jerking off. Though he didn't think she realized that was what he was doing. If she had, he'd need to remember never to play poker with her.) Again, not anything they'd talked about. He was happy to let her set the pace, and right now she seemed content with lots and lots of kissing and little else.
Making dinner. Sheridan was an expert at making dinner. Tonight was the first of three nights in his quarters, so he was already in a good mood, knowing he'd get a solid night's sleep in his own bed. Flat and soft with actual pillows. He didn't understand why Delenn sometimes grumbled when she got in; it didn't matter how many times he explained to her that she wasn't going to die, she still started off propping herself up with an extra pillow.
The door slid open. She was home. Sheridan looked up from the plates he was carefully dripping little dots of something that was too fancy to be called gravy onto. She looked tired; he could see it in the set of her shoulders, the look on her face. A wave of affection for her rolled over him.
"John," she said, voice flat. She was not asking how his day was; she was not saying hello; she was not announcing her presence. She was giving him an order. Sheridan dutifully put down the little gravy container and spoon and went to her, drawing her close for a kiss. Kiss given, he tried to pull back, but Delenn locked her arms around his neck. I'm making dinner, Delenn, he attempted to say, but it was tough to speak with her tongue in his mouth. She pressed her body against his, and he soaked in the sensation for a few heartbeats before finally, gently disengaging.
"Hey. You okay?"
"Fine." She kissed his chin, up his jaw to his ear, devious fingers slipping down his sides to tug his shirt out of his pants. She sucked his earlobe into her mouth at the same time she slid her hands under his shirt - so warm against his skin - and pulled him securely back against her. Hello? Can I come out now? his penis asked, and Sheridan carefully backed away again. At the rate she was going, he'd have her up on the table in about ten minutes, and he didn't think that was her plan.
"I'm trying to make dinner."
She looked up at him with long-suffering patience, as though they'd been married for forty years and she'd had to deal with his bullshit every single day. "You don't make dinner. You remove already prepared food from containers you purchase and arrange it on plates."
"Yeah, and I have to make it look pretty and keep it warm." He headed back into the kitchenette, finishing his task. Snuck a glance her way as he hunted down clean silverware. Delenn was watching him with dark eyes, perched on the edge of her chair. She wasn't watching his face, though; her eyes swept up and down his body with a definite predatory gleam. Sheridan did some quick math - she'd had her period two weeks ago. (He hadn't even known she had periods, and she had explained some of the physical changes she'd gone through after her transformation with a certain clinical lack of embarrassment he'd found endearing. He supposed he'd find it less endearing the first time she made him run down to Red Sector to buy her whatever it was she used.) He wasn't an expert on female biology by any means, but he knew that meant it was around the time for her to ovulate.
Well, well. Delenn was horny. Would wonders never cease?
Sheridan brought over their plates, glasses of water, thinking of how best to spin this to his advantage. Second base, sure. Third base? Third base sounded like a perfectly wonderful way to spend the evening. She would have to agree. He gave Delenn a little extra something in his smile as he sat across from her - surely he wasn't imagining the slight flush in her cheeks?
"So how was your day?" he asked, digging in. She shrugged, a little too nonchalant.
"Routine. Though it will not be so tomorrow. You should not stay awake for me."
Delenn never played with her food, never pushed it around on her plate like she was doing right now. "There is something I must do for Kosh." She was definitely avoiding his eye. She had to do something for Kosh - Sheridan didn't like the way his hackles raised at that.
"Oh?" Perfectly casual, almost uninterested.
"Nothing you need concern yourself about." But he could tell from her whole demeanor that it was something he needed to be concerned about. Something was up. Delenn was very good at subterfuge, at obfuscation, at prevarication. She was not good at straight-up lying, and what she was doing now was very, very close to lying, he could tell. They ate in silence, and Sheridan decided that whatever it was she had to do tomorrow, she was worried about it, and had wanted comfort. Thus the uncharacteristic tongue action and mild groping. He knew it would do no good to argue with her - if she thought she had to do something for Kosh (what could that possibly mean?), then that's what she was going to do, and nothing he could say would change her mind. He decided that he could do the comfort thing. He would be the king of the comfort thing.
Dishes, picking up, fifteen minutes of necessary paperwork, changing into pajamas. By the time he was done, Delenn was already in one of her nightgowns, in the head, doing mysterious feminine things. Sheridan lit a few candles, dug out some lotion from his dresser, pulled back the covers and got everything arranged. She came out with a look on her face - she was confused, and he could tell she wasn't sure if she liked it.
"Take your nightgown off, lie down on your stomach." She gave him a different look at that. A look, as it were. "Pull the sheet up to your waist. Besides, it's nothing I haven't already seen." She arched one of her nonexistent brows, then started pulling off her nightgown. Sheridan turned, busied himself with the candles on top of his dresser. They had shared a big wet naked shower, but Delenn was still fairly modest, and he didn't want to start this by making her feel awkward and self-conscious.
"All right," she said, and he turned back to a truly beautiful sight. Delenn in his bed, appearing nude for all intents and purposes. Her back soft and pink in the candlelight. He was very interested in the side of her breast, but ignored it for the time being. He grabbed the lotion, climbed up on the bed, and straddled her - a knee on either side of her hips. She grabbed the sheets with a fist, and he smiled down at her back.
"It's okay. Relax." He smoothed her hair over to one side, then ran his hand down her spine. She shivered under his touch. He poured some lotion into his hand, warmed it up before he spread it over her back. First, just some nice, gentle rubbing with the palms of his hands. Delenn sighed, and he felt her relax into the mattress. Sheridan decided to start from the top, then work his way down; he used his fingertips to massage the sides of her neck, and was rewarded with a sound he'd never heard from her before. Breathy, a hint of a moan. Then down to the tops of her shoulders, her shoulder blades, down either side of her spine, the small of her back. By the time he was finished, she was limp, and if it weren't for the regular sounds of pleasure she'd made throughout he would think she'd fallen asleep.
Sheridan wanted to keep moving down her body, but tonight wasn't the night to press his luck. So he pulled the sheet up a little bit and started to move off the end of the bed.
"Where are you going?"
"To grab your nightgown," he said, and then Delenn rolled over onto her back. There was nothing to do but take in the view. She looked back at him without any trace of shyness, but no coyness, either.
"Come here." He obeyed, crawling up the bed. Her hands guided him to where she wanted him, and he settled himself carefully on top of her. There was one really nice thing about having no expectations other than kissing - he could concentrate on each kiss as a goal in and of itself, with no other goal in mind. Concentrate on the way she tasted, the way she ran her fingers through his hair; concentrate on the feel of her skin, the rhythm of their tongues moving against each other; concentrate on each perfect moment, the rest of the world falling away.
Sheridan stopped to look at her, wondering what she was thinking. But as always, her gray eyes were inscrutable. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask her what was going on, what she had to do tomorrow, when she brought her hand up to his face.
"When two Minbari become close, as we have become close, there are rituals they perform together. They are important steps as we decide what the nature of our relationship will be."
"I already know what I want the nature of our relationship to be."
"And that is why the rituals are important - to make sure that what we want is truly what we want."
"Are you not sure about this?"
"John. Every Minbari couple goes through the rituals. It's important to me."
"Okay." He smiled down at her, kissed her. "If it's important to you, then it's important to me. Are you wanting to start the rituals?"
"We already have." He must have made a face, because she smiled. "When you ate dinner with me, that was the first."
"Delenn," he said with mock surprise and disapproval. She laughed.
"That meal is the beginning of both a romantic relationship and a friendship. I had no designs of seduction, I promise you."
"Mmhmm. So what's next?"
"Next, I must watch you sleep." He waited for her to continue, but she just smiled up at him. She leaned up to kiss him and he pulled back. "John?"
"You're going to watch me sleep?"
"To see your true face."
"And when do I get to watch you sleep?" She shook her head at him. "I want to watch you sleep, too. Fair's fair."
"That is simply the way the ritual has always been. The male sleeps, and the female watches."
"And you want to watch me sleep tonight?" he asked, not sure he liked the idea. She'd said she wanted to see his true face - he was pretty sure the face he made when he slept was open-mouthed, smooshed against a pillow, drooling and snoring. That was not exactly an image he was proud of.
But Delenn wasn't nodding, wasn't smiling. She looked very serious, almost scared. She shook her head. "I want to do a different ritual tonight."
"They don't have to be done in order?"
"No, they do. We should not complete this ritual until many others have been completed, but...I do not want to wait."
"All right. Which is this one?"
"It is called the Shan'fal. We have already begun it. You have already begun it."
"I did? Is the Shan'fal a backrub?" She giggled a little bit at that, her nose wrinkling up, the way it did anytime he said something dumb. She shifted a little bit beneath him, and Sheridan remembered that she was nearly naked, her breasts pressed against his chest.
"The Shan'fal is an exploration of each other's centers of pleasure." She paused, and Sheridan tried to parse what she had just said. Centers of pleasure. Exploring. Exploring centers of pleasure. That sounded like... "The Shan'fal does not include the actual act of mating," Delenn went on, very serious. "That would only happen should we fully commit to each other, and decide to join our hearts." So by process of elimination, that meant the Shan'fal was everything except actual penetration? That was a lot. That was a whole hell of a lot. He was still working it over in his mind. Delenn's brow wrinkled, and he realized she was waiting for an answer. "John?"
He kissed her, and this time he knew he wasn't going to stop with a kiss. He'd been so careful the last month to respect her boundaries, and it took a little effort to go ahead and touch her the way he'd been wanting to touch her. Considering her story of her last kiss before him, which had been ten years earlier, he had to assume she hadn't done any of this before. Knowing he wasn't going to have to perform took a little of the pressure off, but he still felt a bit worried - he had to make sure this was good for her. He wanted to make it perfect.
He broke off the kiss, moved his way down to her neck and throat. Delenn hummed encouragement, and the hum turned into a moan as he kissed a trail to her breasts. Then he got back up on his knees, straddling her. She looked up at him, confused. He rubbed the tops of her shoulders, from the front this time. Then he worked his way down her sides, back up to her breasts, kneading them gently. When he began to roll her nipples between thumb and forefinger, she let out a moan worthy of a porn star. He tugged the sheet down, massaged her feet, her calves, her thighs. By the time he pulled off her panties she was utterly incoherent, hips rocking upward even before he touched her. There was the slightest resistance as he slid her legs apart, and he paused, waiting.
"Please, John. Please."
He moved until he was laying beside her again, kissing her gently as his fingers began to explore her. She came quickly, with a startled shout that told him that this orgasm had been her first. He pressed his palm against her, gentle pressure, and dropped soft kisses on her temple, her cheek. Her breathing finally slowed some, and she turned to look at him with wide eyes.
"What...what was that?"
"Did you enjoy it?"
She nodded, chest still moving up and down in a rather hypnotic way. Sheridan did his best to keep his eyes on her face. "Minbari do not...that...we don't..." He laughed, drawing her close. Then he journeyed up and down her body again, this time using his lips and tongue where he'd previously used his fingers. This had almost always been just foreplay to him, a prelude. For perhaps the first time, it occurred to him that maybe the Minbari knew what they were doing. Just like when he kissed her, he paid closer attention to each moment. Every sound she made, every time she tossed her head or arched her back.
He got her off three more times, and after the last she started crying - weak, unaffected sobs. Sheridan gathered her up in his arms, held her until the after-affects of the assault on her senses died away. He forgot about his own erection, the ache in his balls, his body's increasingly desperate need to be touched. He thought to rock her to sleep, then sneak off to the head to take care of himself. But then Delenn roused herself, turning her head to kiss wherever her lips would reach. His jaw, his ear, his shoulder. Her hand slipped between their bodies, under the waistband of his shorts, closing around his cock with unerring accuracy. She stroked him like she'd taken a class. How much time passed between the lightning strike and the sound of thunder? About as long as it took him to come, sure for a few seconds that he'd gone blind.
"Where did you learn to do that?" he finally gasped out, when his body was his own to control again. Her hand ran lazily up and down his chest, and she snuggled against him.
"That is what you do in the shower in the morning, is it not?"
"You sly devil. How many times did you watch me?"
"Enough." They had gone to sleep beside each other nearly every single night for the past month, much of that time in each other's arms, but this felt so different. It wasn't just the sex; they were closer now, some indefinable line between them erased. He had started to drift off when Delenn stirred against him.
"What is it?"
"I will be tested tomorrow," she said in a low voice. "Kosh has summoned an Inquisitor."
Sheridan didn't like that word at all, and as he thought about its connotations - torture, death - he found himself completely awake. "Tested for what?"
"The war with the Shadows is coming. I will have an important part to play."
"And Kosh doubts you? I don't see how." She just sighed, and he knew that she was not worried about the test itself, and whatever it entailed, as much as what it signified - that the Vorlon didn't fully trust her. Sheridan couldn't even begin to think why. "Is there anything I can do?"
"No." That steel again, her voice brooking no argument. "When I told you earlier that the test was nothing for you to concern yourself about, I meant it. I just wanted you to know...that I love you."
Sheridan should have felt joy at those words, should have felt warmth bloom through him as he hadn't felt in years and years. Instead he rolled her over on her back, up on an elbow, looming over her. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"John?" She brought fingers up to his face, but he shook them off.
"You said that like you're not planning on coming back." Those bottomless gray eyes, staring back at him. Her jaw set. "Delenn. Tell me what's going to happen."
"I plan to come home to you tomorrow. But when an Inquisitor administers a test, there is always a possibility..."
"What? That you'll die?"
"I am not going to die, John. But we can never know what the next day will bring, and I see no reason to conceal my feelings for you, to not tell you what you mean to me." She kissed him, hands clutching at him. "I love you. Say you love me."
"I love you. You know that."
"Then show me."
Morning explorations. Two fingers buried deep inside of her. I claim this in the name of John Sheridan.
The natives threw a party on the beach.