Shannon (kungfuwaynewho) wrote,

Alma Mater - Chapter 6

Title: Promises
Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, AU, 6100 words
Rating: PG

The next few hours passed in a blur.  People kept coming up and talking to him, asking him questions, and John didn't realize until halfway through the third interview that the students and teachers had been replaced by local news reporters.  He actually saw the cameras, the microphones, the super-hot lady reporter who always wore too-tight suits, except today she was still in jeans and a t-shirt.  He saw all of it, really saw it, as he was mid-answer, and for a second he thought he'd somehow fallen asleep, and this was all a dream.

"I just think it's idiotic to blame every Minbari for one Minbari's actions.  That would be like if, I don't know, if I got in a fight with someone and Coach K benched the entire football team."  Now that he knew that it wasn't just whoever was around him listening, that it might be thousands and thousands of people (maybe more?) listening, he suddenly felt dumb.  Like his brain wouldn't work.  Then someone's hand slipped into his - Delenn.  He looked down at her, seeing the white bandage on her forehead, incongruous considering her smile, the warmth in her eyes.

"The other students tell me that this is your girlfriend?" the reporter asked.  Maria something.  He'd never really paid attention to her name or what she was reporting when he watched her on the news; at least, that had been the case before school started.  After that, after Delenn, she just seemed sort of tawdry, garish.  Too much make-up, clothes too revealing.  "John?"

He'd just been smiling at Delenn, thinking about how beautiful she was.  Now he turned back to Maria, pulling Delenn close to his side.  "Yes, this is my girlfriend, Delenn."

"It appears that you were injured, Delenn.  Did that happen after the White House bomber was revealed to be a Minbari?"

John was sucking in a breath to answer, to make the point that a lot of people were going to be thinking with their guts and not their heads in the next few days, that lashing out was not going to solve any problems; just a lot of really profound, awesome wisdom.  Delenn beat him to the punch.  "There was some chaos when everyone left the building to come down here, to the field," she said, looking impossibly sweet and demure.  As though she were a little embarrassed.  "Betty Wu ended up breaking her ankle running down the stairs!"  Was it possible to love someone for being a really good liar?  What made her such a great liar was that she hadn't even lied at all - Betty had actually broken her ankle, no less.  But everyone listening would assume that Delenn had just bumped her head or something.  They wouldn't know that after the ISN reporter announced that a Minbari had assassinated Governor Harrison, Edgar Jarnevic had picked up the first thing at hand - the coffee mug on Louise Simpson's desk next to his - and flung it at Delenn's head.

They'd been down on the field for about half an hour - Nurse Bournaeu cleaning up the wound, which had been relatively minor for all that it had bled like a son of a bitch, though Delenn was going to have a hell of a bruise - when Edgar had come over, shaking and crying, incoherent.  All he could get out was sorry, over and over, and Delenn just stood and pulled him down into a hug, rubbing his back, saying something in Adronato.  Everyone stopped and watched, and it was really that, seeing Delenn forgive Edgar so easily, without a hint of anger, that snapped the strange fugue they'd all been stuck in.  There had been a lot of people - probably more than half - who had come down to the field just because everyone else had, and they'd been clumped up in groups, quiet in a kind of ominous way, glancing around at everyone else.  But after Delenn had hugged Edgar, smiled at him as he wiped away his tears and blew his nose, everyone had just come together, for real this time.  People who had never spoken to Delenn, never even looked at her, were coming up to introduce themselves, shaking her hand, giving her big hugs.  After a while it had overwhelmed her, and she started crying herself, and boy, were there hugs then.  John didn't remember saying let's all go down to the football field and hug each other over the intercom, but apparently that's what everyone had heard.  It was like a '10s Psi Corps recruiting vid or something.

"How did you find yourself in love with a Minbari, John?"  He looked up - staring at Delenn again, like he was brain damaged - and Maria Something was waiting patiently, a slightly patronizing smile on her face.  Something about the way she'd phrased the question irritated him, like he was supposed to admit that it had been really hard to let himself have feelings for a Minbari, but rather than get angry he decided to take Delenn's lead.

"It happened before I even knew that it had happened.  Her first day, she was eating lunch by herself - it always happens to new kids - and I sat with her.  We talked, and then...that was that.  It was like we'd known each other for years after one day.  Maybe some people take a long time to figure things out, but for me, it didn't take me very long at all to know that I'd met the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with."  He glanced back down at Delenn, who was smiling up at him with shiny eyes, and for half a second the wild thought of dropping to one knee occurred to him.  The very next thing he thought of was that his mom would absolutely kill him dead.  A bit of a laugh at that, and then Delenn did her little wrinkled nose thing, and then they were giggling at each other.

He remembered to turn back to Maria Something on his own this time.  She was staring at the two of them like they'd grown extra heads.  "And...and you, Delenn?" she asked, doing her best to recover.  "Has it been difficult, living as a Minbari foreign exchange student here on Earth?"

"The universe puts us in places where we can learn," Delenn said, and John found himself listening closely.  He didn't actually know what she was going to say next.  "I have learned that Earth is a beautiful planet.  I have learned that Humans are welcoming, generous, and kind.  I have learned more in the last two weeks than I did in the previous two years.  No, Ms. Sanchez, it has not been difficult at all."

"I like the way you say 'universe,'" he blurted out, and Delenn gave him her own why do you have an extra head look.  He grinned at her.  "You-knee-verse.  It's cute."

"That is the way the word should be said."

"That's not how I say it."

"It is not my fault that you do not properly pronounce your vowels."


"Roses."  He laughed at that, and if someone had told him a few hours ago that he'd ever laugh again, he would have called them crazy.  Back to Maria Something, and she was actually smiling at them now.  Not a fake reporter smile, but a real, genuine smile.  It was a little crooked, and she looked a hundred times prettier in regular clothes, with her crooked smile, than she ever did on the news. 

"John, Delenn, thank you.  I wish you all the best."


Principal Sumalong had announced half an hour ago that school was canceled for the next two days at least, and then had asked John what would happen next.  Delenn watched John think, watched him look around as though someone else would answer for him.  And then there was that look she had seen that very first day, in the arcade; that almost-there image of the man he was becoming.  Did John realize what it meant that the principal, the chief educator, was asking for his opinion on what to do?  Did anyone else realize?

"I think everyone's pretty tired, probably wants to go home and see their parents.  Why don't we meet back here on the field at noon tomorrow?  Everyone pack a lunch, we'll set it up like a picnic, and we can just sit and talk?  I'm sure everyone has an idea or two."  Delenn found herself nodding - that was a good plan.  Make everyone else feel involved, a part of whatever this was going to be.  A grass-roots movement, like the article for which Livia had been interviewed had mentioned.  Change began with youth.

Everyone agreed, and then in a matter of minutes the field emptied, and John was driving her home.  It was wonderful to finally be alone with him; at any given moment someone had been watching them, although for the first time most of those watching had done so with approval, not scorn.

"How's your head?" he asked, squeezing her hand.

"Fine, fine.  Will you stay for dinner?"

"Yeah, I already told my mom I was going to.  Dad's apparently up to his neck, isn't even going to come home tonight."

"The same is no doubt true for Livia.  They will have much work to do in the weeks to come, even more so than usual."  They drove the rest of the way in silence, and as Delenn unlocked the front door to enter she realized how tired she was, how nice it would be to just grab a quick bite and then sit with John, just let him hold her.

Judith was running through the house, clothes trailing behind her in colorful streams, cursing under her breath.  "Judith?"  She didn't stop to look at Delenn, just shoved the clothes into a suitcase open on the couch.

"Delenn, pack some robes, toiletries.  We're staying at a hotel tonight."

John grabbed Judith the next time she passed them, made her stop and look at him.  "What's going on?"

Judith sighed, looked back and forth between them, and Delenn could see her think and decide whether or not she was going to tell the truth.  Finally: "Livia called five minutes ago.  Someone sent in a threat to the MIA, that they were going to kill every Minbari in town.  The police think it's just a prank, but I don't feel like risking it."  Someone was going to come to the house and kill her.  Because of what had happened today.  Delenn thought that she should feel afraid, but she didn't feel much of anything at all.

"You're not staying at a hotel," John said.  "You're staying at my house.  I'll call my mom, help Delenn pack.  We'll be ready in five."  The almost-there image wasn't almost anymore; he looked older, braver, stronger.  She was glad that he led her downstairs, because she suddenly didn't remember where anything was anymore.  "Delenn?  Pack some clothes."  She nodded, pulled out the first robes she saw, feeling like she had yesterday - that someone else was operating her body, and she was just watching it happen.  She could distantly hear John speaking.  Was he speaking to her?  No, his mobile was out.  He saw her looking at him, held the phone down.

"What is a prank?"

He looked at her with a strange expression.  Back to his phone.  "Yeah, we'll be right over, Mom.  Okay."  He put his mobile back into his pocket, then walked over to her, slowly.  Put his hands on her shoulders.  Delenn realized that he was very tall.

"Delenn.  You need to finish packing."

"Judith said someone was going to kill me for a prank.  What does that mean?"  Maybe John didn't know the word either, because he just looked at her, and his face was very grim.  Very serious.  She had decided to look up the word on her lectern when he answered.

"A prank is a joke."

"Someone will kill me to make fun?"

He looked like he was in pain.  Had someone thrown something at him as well?  "No.  The police think that whoever called in the threat doesn't mean to actually do anything.  They just...they were just being stupid.  They just wanted to scare people."  She didn't understand.  Judith said that someone was going to kill every Minbari in town.  That did not sound like a joke.  Why would someone promise to do such a thing and not follow through?  Was that meant to be humorous?  She would think it to be another example of the things Humans found funny that were not at all, but neither Judith nor John were laughing.  Surely if it were just a joke, a prank, they would not look so serious, so scared?  Perhaps they were only trying to protect her by concealing the truth - it was no prank.  Someone out there, maybe even someone she knew, was going to kill her.

John folded her robes and placed them in her suitcase.  She followed him into her washroom, and he grabbed everything out of the drawers.  There wasn't much.  He even took her timekeeper from the counter, though she had seen several in his house.  She didn't say anything, though.  Then he was zipping up the suitcase, heading for the stairs.  He had missed something.  Delenn looked around, trying to figure out what it was.

"Delenn?  We need to go."  She went to the shelf over her bed, pulled down the blue bear he had given her at the arcade.  Hard, shiny eyes.  They looked wet under the lights, like the bear was crying.  Delenn hugged the blue bear to her chest.  John's arm came around her shoulders, his lips brushed against her cheek.  She let him lead her up the stairs.

They drove to John's house, Judith following in her own car.  Inside, Miranda and Lizzie hugged them, saying things that Delenn didn't understand; she decided she didn't want to think in English for awhile.  It was easy to let the words become nonsense, just sounds.  Talk, talk, talk.  All Humans did was talk.  Delenn didn't feel like listening to any of it.  There was a meal on the table.  It tasted like nothing, nothing at all, and she chewed and ate mechanically.  Nonsense sounds.  Someone touched her shoulder, her arm.  She took another bite, like chewing packing foam.

There was something wet on her face.  She reached up to touch it.  Her chest hurt.  She couldn't breathe.  There was an awful sound in the air, a desperate sound, something tearing and grating.  Pressure under her knees, on her back, and then she was moving, a touch of wind on her face. 

Delenn realized that she was crying, crying so hard she couldn't draw in her next breath.  John had her cradled in his lap, his arms snug around her, rocking her back and forth.  They weren't in the dining room - he had picked her up and carried her to the couch in the living room. 

"I can't breathe.  I can't breathe," she gasped out.  His hand rubbed up and down her back, and he was crooning something into her ear.  Someone was placing something cool and wet on the top of her head.  "You are safe, Delenn, and everything will be all right.  You are safe."  Judith's voice, and hearing her own language made Delenn feel the truth in the words.  Air back in her lungs, the pain in her chest diminishing.  John's chest solid under her head, and she realized she had her arms wrapped tightly around him.  She loosened her grasp, slid one hand up to rest over his heartbeat.  Normally she found the odor of Human perspiration to be overpowering, quite unpleasant, but John smelled wonderful right now - strong, masculine.  She turned her head to press her nose against him, breathe him in.

Coming back to herself.  The fog lifted; Delenn remembered early mornings before temple, watching the sun rise above the mountains, the ribbons of mist at their feet white and thick at first, then gracefully melting away.  Her father would put her on his shoulders, so that she could see.  Delenn missed him.

She gingerly lifted her face away from John's chest, looked around.  Miranda and Lizzie on one side of John, Judith on the other.  "I'm sorry," she whispered, and in unison they were all shaking their heads, saying no, no.  Still, she felt foolish, ridiculous.  Even now she could not tell why she had been crying.  She was so tired, and her head ached dreadfully.  She wanted to go home, not to Judith's house but to her own home, and lie down on her own bed, the window open a crack to let in a draft of cool air, and sleep for days; she wanted to wake to the sound of the rakhas calling out their morning songs to each other as they flew up and down the valley; she wanted to go to temple, let the chants enfold her, the incense envelope her. 

Crying again.  "I want to go home."  Whispers and murmurs that she couldn't make out.  John was lifting her again, carrying her up the stairs.  Judith was there to unhook her robe, help her take off her shoes, her stockings.  She was laid down on John's flat, soft bed, and then he was crawling in behind her.  She turned to burrow into his arms.  Miranda was spreading the colorful patchwork blanket over them both, pressing her lips gently against Delenn's temple.  Darkness.  Sleep claimed her.


John watched Delenn wake up, slowly, in stages.  At the end, when he could tell she was awake but before she opened her eyes, she reached a hand out until she found him, and rested it on his chest.  He remembered a classic vid he'd watched with Granddad years ago.  A bunch of bank robbers were planning a huge heist.  They planned, they prepared.  One of them had got a job at the bank, and the bank manager had shown her around, finally taking her down to the vault.  Stacks of money, actual money, all along the walls.  Locked boxes that held jewelry.  After the bank robber had finished looking around, the manager led her back out, and swung the enormous, heavy metal door shut.  There was a loud whump of a noise, and then the manager spun a dial, a round spoke of metal like a ship's wheel.  That was the lock.  Now the vault was impenetrable, completely sealed.  As Delenn slid her hand up to rest over his heart, as she made sure he was there beside her before she even opened her eyes, John thought about that spinning lock; the vault was sealed.

Now she opened her eyes, and John didn't like what he saw in them: shame, regret, anxiety.  He covered her hand with his own.  "Hey."

"Did it happen?" she asked, a vertical line dividing her forehead.  A line he had never seen before. 

"Did what happen?"

"Who died?  Who was killed in the night?"  John rolled over, grabbed her and hugged her close.  She was stiff in his arms, not yielding at all, and finally pushed herself back.  Her eyes bored into his.  "Tell me, John."

"No one.  Delenn, no one died.  No one was killed.  It was just a prank."  She didn't believe him at first, but he just kept nodding, running his fingers along her cheek, and finally she let him pull her close again.

"I don't understand," she whispered.

"Humans can be assholes." 

Delenn worked herself up on an elbow, peering down at him with a look on her face he'd seen on plenty of teacher's faces over the years.  "How do your people come up with such vile expressions?"

"Because Humans can be assholes."  She rolled her eyes at him, but it had worked; the corners of her lips curved up just the tiniest bit, and she leaned down to give him a soft, gentle good morning kiss.  John decided that this was how he wanted to wake up every morning from now on.  Although maybe without the death threats and terrorist attacks.

The meeting was in a couple hours, and even though he was hoping that other students would show up with some good ideas, John couldn't help but feel like everyone would expect him to come up with some kind of miracle.  Something that would make everything okay.  He would talk for a couple minutes, and all of a sudden Minbar and Earth would get along, the colonies on Orion 7 would live side by side in peace, et cetera, et cetera.  It was ridiculous.  There was nothing he could do; he had only wanted to keep Delenn safe yesterday, when everyone was out for blood.  Now that that was done, he really didn't think there was anything else for him to do. 

John thought it was infinitely adorable the way she blushed at getting dressed in front of him, and decided to be a gentleman and turn his back.  He was fastening up his jeans when she came up behind him, her arms around his waist, kissing him between his shoulder blades.

"I love you," she said, turning her head to rest it against his back.  Even though she'd said it before, and even though it wasn't exactly a surprise, he still found tears pricking his eyes.

"Me, too."  John turned slowly, not wanting her to back away, and kissed the top of her head.  Hugged her close, just concentrating on the feel of her in his arms.  That was how Lizzie found them a few minutes later, flinging the door open and then screwing up her nose.

"Did you forget how to knock?" he asked with an eye roll, and she threw him an even better one back.  "Remind me to send you the link on your lectern - I think the dictionary entry has a tutorial."

"Mom made breakfast.  Bacon and eggs.  If you two can quit slobbering all over each other."  With that, Lizzie skipped out.  Delenn looked up at him curiously.

"But we were not even kissing."

"Congratulations.  You now have a little sister.  The more shit they give you, the more they love you."  Delenn smiled at that, burying her face in his shirt, and he remembered her saying that she'd always wanted a sibling.  "You can tell all your Minbari friends about your great big Human family."

"Is that what you are?" she whispered.

"Oh, yeah.  You're stuck with us now."  She laughed a tiny, quiet laugh at that, but he heard a hitch in the middle.  So he hugged her nice and tight again, thinking about how he'd prefer to just blow off the meeting and snuggle with her all day.  A crazy image popped into his head - the way he'd tug his dresser over to the foot of his bed and sling a blanket from his headboard to the top of it to make a tent when he was a kid.  That's what he wanted now; a cozy, warm place to hide with Delenn, just the two of them, the rest of the world disappearing. 

But not today.  He roused himself.  "Bacon and eggs, Delenn.  Come on."  He took her hand, tugged her out the door.

"I do not know what bacon is."

"Oh, Delenn.  Bacon is what the gods eat."  And as they started down the stairs, the wonderful, wonderful aroma of delicious, delicious bacon surrounded him.  He looked down to grin at her, hoping to see her sniffing the air, maybe with little bacon slices gleaming in her eyes, but she had her nose wrinkled up, and not in the cute laughing way.

Not only had Mom made bacon and eggs, she'd made hashbrown casserole and pasta salad and chocolate chip cookies for them to take to the picnic today.  John went to the casserole to snag a scoop and she slapped him on the back of the head.

"Ow, Mom!  Jesus!"

"That's for later.  Your plates are in the micro."  John pulled them out - still hot.  He sat down with Delenn, and she took her fork and gave the bacon a tentative poke.

"You don't have to eat this.  I can make you something else."

"No, no.  I am honored to eat your sacred food.  Do you have a ritual that goes along with it?  Should I offer the bacon to one of your gods?"


"You said that your gods ate this bacon.  Or did you mean that in a mythic sense?"

God, he loved her.  He picked up a slice and waved it in front of her face.  "Open your mouth."  She obeyed, took a nibble.  "Now tell me that isn't the best thing you've ever had in there."  There was a warm, amused look in her eyes, but she didn't actually answer him.  She found the salt and pepper and went to town, and even his mom stopped to watch.  Delenn noticed the scrutiny.

"I hope I do not offend you by preferring extra seasoning," she said, looking worried.

"I'm offended," Lizzie shot back, shoveling eggs into her mouth.  "I'm horribly offended."

"Lizzie!" Mom said under her breath, glaring.  But Delenn was grinning, unable to keep the smile off her face even as she ate her first perfect little bite of eggs.  John kicked Lizzie under the table and dropped her a wink.


"Hometown hero and teen activist Johnny Sheridan!  Unable to eat cookies without getting chocolate all over his face!"  McCarty dropped down on the blanket next to Delenn, almost but not quite knocking her over.

"I do not," John groused, rubbing at his face.  "Do I?" he asked Delenn, who solemnly nodded her head up and down and pointed at the corner of her own mouth.  Mom had told him to pack some napkins and he'd ignored her.  He rubbed and rubbed, waiting for Delenn to tell him he'd got it.

"What's the point of having a girlfriend if you can't ask her to lick the chocolate off your face?"  McCarty leered at Delenn, and he was glad that she apparently understood that this meant that McCarty liked her now; she smiled, ducked her head down.  Still, he couldn't allow this to become a precedent.  John lunged over to smack him, which meant he was the one who ended up knocking Delenn over.  She laughed, and stayed on her back, looking up at the clouds.  John joined her.

"The skies on Minbar never get this blue."

"Do you ever figure out what the clouds look like?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"That one right there.  It looks like a bunny."

"I do not know what a bunny is.  It looks like two mountains to me."

McCarty flopped down on his back, too.  "Boobs.  I just see boobs."

"Jesus Christ."

"Nick," Delenn said, mock stern.  "Please roll over."  McCarty rolled over but not in the direction she intended; he snuggled up against her, and she giggled.  John turned over to kiss her, and she poked her tongue out to clean up the corner of his mouth.

"Hey, you guys ever need an extra hand..."  This time Delenn smacked McCarty, half-heartedly, clearly never seeing that kind of thing as affectionate before.

"I thought we were here to figure out a plan."  Once that voice alone might have been enough to give him some wood, but now it just made him cringe.  He leaned up on his elbows to see Lindsay, Amanda and Deirdre standing at the foot of the blanket, all in Minbari robes.  Tailored robes; they were way too tight, and exposed way too much cleavage.  Delenn sat completely up, tugging on her own robes, and John rested his head against her side, smiling up at the girls, and if he threw in a little extra smirk, then so be it.  He could tell that he still had a bit of pull with Amanda - she blushed, looked down at her feet - but Lindsay's face was cold.

"Figured we'd let everyone eat first," he said, insouciant.  He had a theory that Lindsay decided that she wanted him once he started going with Delenn - it probably irked her that a handsome guy like him picked a Minbari girl instead of her.  He put an arm around Delenn's waist, feeling petty and wanting to rub it in.

Lindsay just rolled her pretty eyes, whispering something to Deirdre.  They laughed mean little laughs and waltzed off.  Amanda looked a tiny bit chagrined, and hesitated, but ended up following the others after a moment.

"How come they're wearing your clothes?" McCarty asked, still on his back.

"They're not," Delenn said, cleaning up the remnants of their lunch, and John was surprised by how upset she seemed.  Then he remembered what Lindsay had said to her the last time they'd met, and decided that she wasn't mad enough.  "They are poor facsimiles, styled in such a way as to expose far too much skin.  It is quite inappropriate.  Though she is right, John.  It is time for us to begin.”

He’d been avoiding that part of it.  He’d been kind of hoping someone else would get this show on the road, but everyone else seemed happy to just sit in the sun, and talk, and eat.  John sighed, still feeling as lost as he had this morning.  Stood up, cleared his throat, and spoke, nice and loud; all that singing in class was paying off - it was easy to pitch his voice clearly enough for everyone to hear.

“Hey, you cretins!  Get your shit cleaned up and move here to the middle of the field so we can all hear each other!”  If a teacher had made a similar announcement, most everyone would have ignored him or her, would have kept talking.  It would have taken two or three extra reminders to get the kids moving.  But everyone obeyed almost immediately, happily.  It was kind of creeping him out.


An hour later, and they had come up with nothing.  John dutifully wrote down each suggestion, but the only thing he had circled was write letters to representatives.  Delenn found herself growing frustrated, though she tried to tell herself that it was good enough that so many had come together in the first place.

“We always raise a lot of money with the bake sales, especially if the volleyball team is in uniform,” Lindsay was saying.  She had undone the first fasten on her pretend robes, and was sitting in such a way as to thrust her breasts outward.  Delenn wasn’t sure what the Human’s objective was - did she suppose John would end their relationship over a larger set of mammaries?  Delenn watched John write bake sale next to car wash and raffle

“Raising money is all well and good,” Delenn said, not planning to address the Human at all, but the words were out before she could even think about it.  “The specific manner is irrelevant.  What would we do with the money once we had raised it?  What is the goal?”  Murmurs at that, as the clusters of students all around thought out loud. 

“I’d have guessed that you’d be more positive, Delenn,” Lindsay said, flipping her hair over her shoulder.  Drawing her fingers through it, slowly, what looked like to Delenn like seductively.  Mammaries and hair?  Were these her only charms?  “You haven’t come up with a single suggestion.”

Delenn had hoped that someone else would come up with her idea first, so that she wouldn’t appear to be telling the Human students what to do.  She would not let this girl back her into a corner, though.  “There are many ways to retaliate against Minbari, some more subtle than others,” she said, and she was keenly aware of John’s eyes on her.  He always listened so closely when she spoke, and it made her feel cared for, appreciated.  “Most immigrants live in precarious situations, trying to establish careers in an alien culture and economy.  If their businesses faltered even slightly, they might find themselves without enough income to continue to live on Earth, and be forced to return home.”

“That’s something the Nazis did in the 1930s,” John added, nodding.  “Make it illegal to frequent Jewish shops, hope that the Jews suffer enough that they decide to leave the country.”

“If everyone here frequented a Minbari establishment in town, that would hopefully combat those who decided to withhold their business because of the terrorist’s actions.”  More murmurs now - excited, anticipatory.

“Do you know of all the Minbari shops in town, Delenn?” Edgar called out.  He’d become the biggest Minbari cheerleader, having offered half a dozen suggestions (it was not his fault they were no good), enthusiastically jumping on everyone else’s thoughts. 

“One of my host mothers works for the MIA.  I am sure she can provide that information.”

“That sounds like a good place to start,” John called out, grinning.  “Try to get your parents to do it, too.”  With that, everyone started to pack up their things and disperse, apparently quite excited at the prospect of doing something positive.  Delenn hoped that their fervor would last more than a day or two before something newer and more interesting came along.

John leaned over, nuzzled his nose against her ear.  “What do you think?”

“As you say, a good place to start.”  She folded up the blanket, packed it away in the canvas bag Miranda had given them.  John was a few paces away, talking to some of his athletic colleagues.

“Delenn.  Take a walk with me?”  She looked up to see Lindsay, peering down at her.

“To what end?”

“I wanted to apologize for the other day.”  Delenn stood, hesitant.  Lindsay did not look particularly remorseful; in fact, she had a gleam in her eye that Delenn did not trust at all.  But she felt obligated to give the Human the opportunity to make amends, so she joined her, and they began to walk along the track that encircled the field. 

“I didn’t know how much he liked you,” Lindsay said, walking rather quickly.  She was taller than Delenn, and her pace forced Delenn to hurry to stay beside her.  She was sure the Human was doing it on purpose.  “If I had, I never would have said any of that.”

“But if John did not care for me as he did, what you said would have been all right?”

Lindsay suddenly stopped, turning to face her, and Delenn nearly ran into her.  “What I said was the truth.  It still is.  But it doesn’t matter now.  John’s a good guy.  He’s not going to dump you now, not after everything that happened yesterday.”

“There are plenty of attractive men at this school.  You should not worry so much about John.”

“That has nothing to do with this,” Lindsay hissed, and Delenn knew she had hit a sore spot.  Why had Lindsay not pursued John if she were interested in him?  Why did she wait until he had begun a relationship with someone else?  Humans could be so obtuse.  “I just thought you should know that he’s going to feel obligated to stay with you.”

“I doubt that.”

Lindsay shook her head, as though Delenn were an idiot.  “You think it’s going to be happily ever after for you two?  Do you actually think this isn’t just a high school thing?  What, he’s going to marry you?  You’re going to have lots of babies?  Wait, you can’t have babies, and you can’t get married.  He’s going to want those things, Delenn.  If not now, then eventually.”

How did she do it?  How did she continue to say the one thing that managed to pierce Delenn through, tap into some fear she didn’t even know she had?  Delenn was the one to shake her head, though more to hide the tremor she felt course through her, the bite of tears at the back of her eyes.  “The universe will provide a path,” she said, and turned back to the field to find John.  He waved happily when he saw her, running over and engulfing her in a hug.  They walked back to his car, surrounded by students, everyone laughing and talking; all Delenn could think about were Lindsay’s words.  How long would it be before John wanted more than she could provide?  She worried it would not be long enough.

Ch. 7 - Many Happy Returns )
Tags: b5, fic, fic: alma mater, j/d

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