Sins of the Past
(look me up on fanfiction.net and read my other stuff too! I have many
other Marcus/Ivanova stories archived)
Credits: SharonG & OldHistory (look their stories up here too!) for last
minute beta-calls (like a booty call but only the characters get laid -
heh.) They deserve to be paid. Let's all send them cookies. Shall we?
RATING: We'll say this is rated PG-17 for subject matter - war is hell. No
sex, some groping, kissing.
Marcus let out a last sputtering cough, wiping the resultant drops of vomit
from beard. His head low, breathing heavily from exertion, he pushed
himself to rise shakily from his knees from the small patch of jagged
gravel he'd collapsed onto minutes ago. He leveled his eyes once again to
the sight before him.
Bodies. No, skeletons, hundreds upon hundreds. As far as the eye could see.
And every single one, a very distinguishing feature. A bone crest. It'd
taken him a few minutes to comprehend what he'd seen when he first arrived.
Now, that the shock of the sight was over the despair crept in, he began
slowly, baby steps, arms limply at his sides. Treading closer to the not so
No, these had been here a few years. The bones had been stripped clean by
the native insects, and were now a startlingly whitish blue against the red
clay ground. The once black uniforms they wore were now shredded with time
and the elements, faded to grey. Even from their remaining disintegrating
shreds he had no trouble recognizing them. Warrior caste. All of them.
None of them armed. Which is something they never were, they practically
slept with side arms. Unless someone disarmed them.
He pulled his link out of his trouser pocket, triggering it with a soft
bleep. "I'm coming up. Get Babylon 5 on a secure channel for me NOW, have
them waiting for me when I arrive."
"You're sure?" Sheridan said skeptically, looking over to an equally
unconvinced Ivanova, ever present at his side. Delenn sat silently to one
side, clearly shaken.
"Positive," he nodded to them over the connection. "Marcus, no offense, but
we didn't have any Minbari POW camps during the war. Hell, we couldn't
disable enough to warrant a camp."
"Captain, with no offense but," he repeated back with a hint of sarcasm,
then brought back the dead serious tone, "yes, we did."
"And exactly how do you know this?" This was the patriot talking now, the
great hero of the Earth Minbari War.
He couldn't hide his dissenting look but simply retorted back, "Well, I
worked three years in Military Intelligence on Io during the war with level
eighteen access. Would you like my clearance code?" he said sarcastically,
not appreciating their continual doubting of his word.
"Okay! I believe you." Sheridan exasperated.
"Thank you," he said genuinely.
"But what can we do about it? Right now, nothing. With our being split from
Earth we can't even take this information to anyone who can act on it.
Let's face it, we might never be able to give this to anyone who will trust
it, or us," Ivanova thought aloud.
"Agreed, but we can't just ignore what we have found either," Marcus chimed
in. "At least I won't."
"How did you find this place?" Delenn asked, finally breaking her silence,
looking up to him onscreen.
"We were in the area, picked up intermittent electronic interference. Upon
analyzing the probe data we decided it was a Stealth Jammer, an attempt to
hide it from scanners like ours. Except it malfunctioned." He let out a
small smile "Anything worth hiding is worth looking at, and since there
were no large profile life signs, I went down to take a look. I had no idea
I'd step into a graveyard a half click on foot later. I didn't want to go
further without back up."
Sheridan nodded, deep in thought, and picked up the data tablet displaying
the aerial surveillance picture Marcus had transmitted. He looked over to
Ivanova in some sort of unspoken conversation.
Finally he spoke. "We'll be on the first Whitestar out, I want to see this
with my own eyes." Ivanova nodded in agreement and looked up into Marcus'
eyes on screen in support. She was on his side now. He knew that.
"No. You don't," he said softly. "But we'll be waiting all the same." With
a reluctant smile, he signed off.
He stood up and spoke to his second officer in Minbari, "Maintain defensive
orbit, anything so much as twinkles I want to know about it."
He adjusted his vest and took in a deep breath. On confirmation of his
orders, he left to find the bottle of whiskey he hid under a wiring cluster
inside the waste disposal maintenance panel. It was days like this that he
even remembered he stashed it there to begin with.
He'd been huddled over the computer, hacking in to the Earth planetary
security net, for nearly 2 hours. He set up a timed Ping Bug so if anyone
tried to send a locator signal it'd tip him off, he'd know it before they
had a lock. Being so far out had its advantages.
So far all his acquired codes were still working, he hoped he got what he
needed before it died. And he knew it would. He refilled his coffee cup
halfway, then looked over his shoulder to see if the coast was clear. From
his interior duster pocket he drew the Whiskey bottle out and filled the
mug almost to the brim. At least a triple shot. At least he'd be able to
sleep tonight. Last night had been a waste of time. All he could see was
He looked once more about the small mess area and re-housed it in its
temporary home. Today's discovery was draining it fast, he just couldn't
shake the scene from his head. Luckily, being a seventh generation miner's
son had a few upsides, one of which was being able to hold one's liquor
extremely well. There weren't many people who could out drink him he
discovered in his work.
He'd punched in the moon's coordinates upon accessing them and it came up
identified as "PARC III". One of four "political aggression relocation
colonies". It "closed" almost two months after the war ended. It's
Commander, Major James Hartwell, was reassigned to a High Security Military
Prison on Mars immediately after. He died in 2252. No reason given, but
that was about the time the Mars riots began, he thought to himself, could
be related. Maybe not.
The alert sounded. "Anla'Shok Marcus, the others have arrived," came the
voice over the speaker.
"Thank you," he quickly severed the connection. He set it to recalibrate
its encoded sequencing as a safety precaution, and made his way to the bay.
They were just disembarking as he entered.
"Where's Delenn?" he asked, noticing his diminutive leader wasn't there.
"Should be here anytime now," Sheridan relayed. "She wanted to see Draal
first." Marcus was clearly taken aback by the comment, the Captain quickly
responded. "No. She didn't tell me why. Your guess is as good as mine."
Marcus nodded. "Well, I might as well show you what little I've found out
so far. I can bring her up to speed when she arrives."
"Well, not that I'm in a hurry to see it, I think I'd like to see the
surface first," Sheridan ground out, not sounding to enthralled by the
idea. Marcus shook his head.
"Not now, it's night. Trust me. Some things are better not seen in the
dark." It was one reason he'd not slept so well last night, it had
bothered him so much he'd gone back down to try to look for some sign of
who was responsible. Equipment, trash - something. Night began to fall
before he made it back to the shuttle. It drew a cold shiver up his spine
even now to think on it.
They nodded stiffly in understanding. He motioned to the door and the
Captain filed out. Glancing at Ivanova following lifelessly behind, he put
and hand on her arm, stopping her short of the door. The Captain continued
"Susan. Everything okay?" he leaned in, speaking in a low voice.
She shook her head, reluctantly. "Just this, on top of the war with
Clarke. I thought honor still had a place in this universe. That's all."
"I know what you mean," he said, setting a hand on her shoulder. "Come on,
I've put on a hot pot of caff in the mess." He put on a tempting smile.
"It'll cheer you up."
Her cheeks turned ever so slightly pink. "You know me too well." He didn't
fail to miss the slight upward curl of her lips as she spoke.
"Maybe," he said softly. "Is that such a bad thing?"
Her nostrils flared, and he heard a soft sniff. She smirked. "Can you top
it off with a shot or two of whatever you've been drinking? I think I could
use some too." He was painfully aware she had not answered his question and
shoved the rogue thought out.
He grinned. "I'll speak with the Maitre D, and see what I can arrange."
Sweeping his arm out with a flourish he added, "After you."
She shook her head in resignation and he followed them to the small room at
the end of the corridor where Sheridan was already waiting.
Delenn arrived a few hours later and, saying nothing more than basic
salutations, went immediately to bed. Marcus wasn't quite sure what the
problem was, but he knew her well enough to know if she wanted him to know
she'd tell him. She was sensitive and he was sure she was dealing with this
news her own way.
Unable to sleep himself, and wanting to save the remainder of his liquor so
as not to drink it all in response to this discovery, he decided to take a
walk to re-stash his illicit contraband back in its cozy hideaway.
He stumbled onto Susan as he entered the microscopically sized engine room
under the main bridge. She was looking out the small section of the main
viewing port that was shared with this deck. She often came to this spot to
be alone on missions. Never quite this late though.
She turned, hearing him approach. He quickly felt the need to explain
himself. "I'll be just a minute, don't mind me. I'm doing this for my own
good," he whispered squeezing past, he held up the partially full bottle
for her to see.
She gave him a stiff nod, then turned back to the view. He slipped behind
her, and opened up the panel, pulled aside the wires shoving it securely
in, and closed the door again.
"Now you know ALL my secrets, shhhh," he winked, holding a finger to his
lips and moved to pass back by her to leave.
"Doesn't that bother you?" she inquired, her voice monotone, not looking
away from the stars before her.
"What bother me?" he said stopping.
"That I know your secrets," she said, turning to face him. The small
confines required they stand close, but this was closer than was
comfortable for either of them, and it was evident on her face.
"No," Marcus replied frankly. "Should it?"
She didn't answer immediately. "I'm sick to death of secrets," she finally
mumbled. "Too damn many of them."
"You don't have to tell me that, it's my job," he said in agreement. Then
added softly, lowering his head ever so slightly,
"But if you ever wanted to tell me one of yours, you know where I am.
"I know." She looked in his eyes again, and they locked with his
searchingly then looked away. "Maybe sometime. Good night, Marcus."
The sudden turn of conversation and the abrupt end made Marcus jump a bit.
"Ah, good night, Susan. If you need a night cap, well you know where it is,
Delenn looked over the field of bones, her eyes red and puffy from emotion.
She said nothing. She knelt and picked up one skull. The thick calcified
bonecrest made the Minbari skull heavy and wanting roll in her hands but
she held it and peered in to the hole over the right temple, seeing the
sunrise splash a pattern of golden light into the interior. This one
exactly as the others, exactly like Marcus said. All killed with shots to
She closed her eyes held it to her chest. He never should have found this
place. This place should have been left unknown, a silent monument. This
complicated things immensely.
She gently laid the skull back on the ground and whispered an ancient
prayer for the dead and turned to see John in the distance surveying the
scene with similar shock. And guilt. She knew him well enough to know that.
His sense of honor so high he felt partially responsible, guilty, even
though it was not his fault or creation. His people, his 'warrior' clan,
had done this, but they were not alone in the blame. She knew that.
"Where is the camp?" Susan asked finally. Her voice shattering the eerie
calm. "I can't see it."
"Dunno. I was just wondering the same thing. " Marcus dusted off his hands
and sat them on his hips, squinting into the morning sun scanning the area.
"I suggest we hop back in the shuttle and get airborne, I want to see where
they came from. I'm betting they were marched out here."
"Why weren't they buried?" Susan inquired curiously, "If they were trying
to hide them they did a lousy job."
"They were in a hurry." Sheridan said off to one side looking at a pile of
bones emerging from the soil. "Ok, let's get up and see what we can find. I
think these winds have blown away any tracks or trace evidence though."
Anger was resident in his voice, Sheridan wore his emotions on shi sleeve
From the air they could see a small compound, destroyed to all but some
timbers jutting out of the ground at odd angles surrounded by chunks of
dark rubble. It was obvious, they nuked it upon leaving. There was'nt more
than few pieces of fencing left.
"Good Lord," Marcus breathed. "We won't find anything now."
"Got bearing on that jammer?" Sheridan asked looking down, kicking at a
blackened rock in disgust.
Marcus looked down at his equipment hanging at his waist, "Under ground,
half a click this way..." he said leading the group. Reaching the spot they
began to dig using the kit shovel he'd brought along.
Five feet of sand packed rubble later Marcus and John now both bared to the
waist to cool themselves in the heat of the spartan moon's midday sun.
Breathing heavily they looked down to the onyx like surface they'd just
uncovered at the bottom of the hole. Susan jumped in to join them and began
scraping away dirt form the edges with her fingers. Delenn only paced and
clenched her hands in worry.
Thirty minutes later the three finished unearthing it and with great effort
managed to thrust it up on the surface. They helped each other out of the
hole and began work removing the clumps of rocky soil soil stuck to it.
Sweeping away the dust with their fingers.
Once relatively clean no one spoke but only stared in disbelief. It
shimmered iridescent black-blue and green in the noonday sunlight, it's
sloping delicately curved sides were much too elegant in form to be Earth-
Marcus carefully caught Delenn's eyes. Speaking what she knew they were all
thinking. "This is Minbari." He said softly. "Please tell me I'm wrong."
"We should return to the ship. It's getting too warm to stay out here much
longer," Delenn said simply turning and walking back towards the shuttle.
The three covered in dirt only stared after.
Marcus rinsed the cloth again and rubbed it over his bare torso removing
another layer of grime, then returned it to the small stream of water to
rinse it. It was far too great a task for a cloth so small, so it was
taking more time than he'd have liked. With no showers it was the only way
humans could get halfway clean on these ships, the chemicals the Minbari
used burned his skin.
Sheridan had already cleaned up and went to take the bridge. He needed to
cool off before the briefing, he was pretty upset Delenn as not being very
candid. He was taking his time to mentally prepare for whatever she was
going to say about the mysterious black jammer box.
"You about done?" Ivanova's voice broke into his consciousness. "Delenn
wants to start in 15 minutes."
He jumped at her voice having not heard her approach. He smiled at her
standing in the doorway, rinsed and put down the cloth on the counter
beside him, "Just give me a minute."
He bent over and craned his neck under the trickle of water and rinsed the
gritty dust from his hair as best he could. He stood up rubbing it briskly
with the cloth he'd been using. "Not quite up to snuff for sunday service,
but it'll do for now." He said with a nod.
She wasn't paying attention, instead seemed to be focused intently on the
trail of water running down his chest. Sensing the silence she looked up
catching him watching her curiously. "Uhm, well I'm going to go back," She
said with a slight stutter motioning over her shoulder.
"Okay, see you there. I'm just going to change." He said motioning over his
towards the small cabinet where his carry bag was. After few moments she
still hadn't moved, sort of frozen in place. "I'd ask you to stay, but..."
He teased his words trailing off.
The look of recognition of what he was exactly saying registered on her
face. "Ohh right," She sputtered nodding. "See ya."
He stared after her departing form. She had been watching him hadn't she?
He couldn't hold back the smile, "There might be some hope here yet." He
murmured closing the door to the room. "Oh, who am I fooling anyway? This I
me here, I know better."
In a fresh uniform he made way to the meeting room, entering he heard
Sheridan talking to Susan "You sure you're ok? You seem kinda sidetracked."
She saw him enter and shot a look back at Sheridan. "I'm fine. Really." She
Marcus took a seat across from her leaving the other end open for Delenn.
They waited for minutes then the Minbari woman entered solemnly, taking her
seat with a sober determination palpable on her face.
Softly she began. "Ten years ago... before the end of the Earth Minbari
war, I was the newest, and youngest member of the Grey Council. No more
than an mere acolyte really, but the Chosen of Duh'kat. Thrust into the
highest of all service on Minbar. It was overwhelming, an honor not often
bestowed on someone my age, and my opinion meant little. Know that.
"During the war, we learned of the camps. It is a common wartime practice
on many worlds, we did not object." She cleared her throat, her voice was
now louder, though not any more steady "The Rangers were a scant bunch of
no more than a few dozen then. After the surrender, they heard word about
something horrible happening there a few days before. We had no idea until
we sent them to investigate.
"The initial reports and photos were unspeakable... but in light of our
discovery of our people's connection with your own, the Grey Council
decided it was best... to overlook it."
"Overlook mass murder?" Marcus gasped appalled. "I can't believe you are
"It was no worse that what we would have done to you had we not stopped
when we did." She said firmly with a fire flashing in her blue eyes. "Our
casualties were so few in comparison to your own. So terribly unequal.
"We decided it would serve no purpose to re-ignite the fire that would
surely rage in the light of such news. We knew it for what it was, a
spiteful act of revenge, nothing more. A concept we were all too familiar
with. 'Forgive and forget', that is a saying of your people, am I correct?
This is what we chose to do, although I doubt a single council member will
"We called them "acceptable losses" and tried not to think on it again. We
just wanted it to be over. All of it. We had finally managed to end the war
so many of us regretted ,and we would not see it begun again. To do so
would surely have spelled disaster for both our races.
"Once the warrior caste learned of it there would be no stopping it a
second time. So, we told no one and sent the rangers to destroy any signs
and hide it all best they could. Evidentially it was not enough." She
"What about punishment? We can't let the responsible parties get away with
this. We have to document the scene and see that justice is-"
She cleared her throat. "Do not be fooled. The people responsible HAVE seen
justice. All too well. It is enough. It will have to be." She said crisply
looking away. "We have come so far, so fast, we cannot go back again."
No one spoke for a very long time, only looks passed between uneasy eyes.
No one was very comfortable with any of this. With finding it, or finding
out it was a cover up, but in their favor. Yet all knew the sickening
truth, the Council had been right. No one could know what happened here, it
would surely cause the final end of the Human race in a blood bath the
likes of which had never been experienced.
She continued, "With Draal's help I have spoken to the Grey Council on
Minbar. They are unanimous. We are to destroy the moon so as no one else
will ever discover it. Whitestar 6 is en route now with nuclear charges.
There is only fire to wipe away the mistakes of the past once more."
"I really should stop telling you so many of my secrets," Marcus said with
a frown, entering the engine room and stirring the commander from her
thoughts. "You're going to cost me a fortune medicinally."
The Commander guiltily looked over her shoulder, the open bottle in her
hand. She apologized. "Sorry. I'll pay you back."
"I'll forgive the debt on the condition that there's still some left in
there, I was feeling like a conversation with Mr. Daniels myself," he
chuckled uncomfortably taking a spot to stand next to her, looking out the
window watching the stars in their orbit.
She held it out to him, her eyes gleaming, sloshing it around. "Guess I'm
in luck then." The bottle was still well over 'half full' status.
He reached for it, his warm fingers curling over hers to take possession of
the bottle. She found herself reluctant to let go, but let him take it
back. Raising it slowly to his lips and he took a mouthful, licked his
lips and took another leisurely drag. So much for formalities, she said to
"You feeling any better about this?" Susan inquired.
He swallowed looking at her. "No. You?"
She shook her head, "Nope."
She turned away from the window and leaned against a wall of conduits. "My
turn." She reached out wiggling her fingers and was rewarded with it.
The ranger put his back against the other 'wall' to face her. They both
slid smoothly down to sit, their knees drawn up. The space was too small to
do anything else sitting across from the other.
They talked for almost an hour, rumors, news, the channels they missed on
the satellite-feed - about anything OTHER than the massacre below. Neither
wanted to talk about that. There was no use. Verbal jabs were passed about
as they leaned in and out to pass the bottle back and forth.
Finally, the Ranger getting possession, held up one finger showing he had
an idea, and swiveled around, scooting back to sit at her side.
"This is easier. Much less work." He took another long drink and groaned
thankfully, letting his legs stretch out full length, toes nearly touching
the other wall.
Ivanova let hers extend also, relaxing. She held up the bottle, seeing it
now approaching one quarter full. "Maybe you need to stash two of these
from now on."
"Maybe, but I'd have to find a second hiding spot as well, those aren't
easy to come by on these ships. Or maybe I just need a better drinking
buddy. Perhaps even one who won't HOG the bottle." He leaned over and
bumped her shoulder purposefully.
Her face lit up bright red, jaw dropping showing her mock offense. She
playfully elbowed him into the corner. "Fine! Good luck finding that with
this group. They don't even eat meat."
"Touche," Marcus grinned taking it back and after a drink settling it on
his thigh with one hand.
"Why haven't we done this before?" she asked him seriously. "Just hang
He rolled his eyes and took another swig. "I'll tell you why. You've always
said no, that's why," he snorted into the bottle.
"I have not," She protested, all the while he nodded zealously in
disagreement. "What about those times we went to Earhart's?"
"That was the lot of us, it doesn't count."
"Yes, it does."
"No. It doesn't. If you mean WE, as in you and I, that does not include the
others. You've refused every time I've ever suggested we go for a simple
drink to even discuss business."
"I don't think so." The Russian commander growled in stubborn disagreement.
"Thirty three times! In a row!" Marcus coughed pointing a finger at her
then taking another drink.
"Thirty three times," She repeated slowly, "In a row." She grinned like a
stalking cat moving into kill. "You COUNTED?!"
He stopped mid guzzle, eyes wide, caught. "Uhm, no. It was a guess."
"Yes you did!, You counted." Scooted to her knees and she faced him.
Marcus cut her off. "Very what? And if I did? What difference would it
She raised one eyebrow, studying his dark aquiline features from close up.
"I think if you say it was thirty three times, then I think I was wrong to
say no to them all."
He looked up at her, straight in the eye. She was then suddenly aware how
close she had scooted to him, she was close. So close. She couldn't steal
her glance away from his suddenly very interesting green eyes.
"Well, why did you? Just out to be difficult?" he murmured, eyes playfully
twinkling at her. His face was dark and staid, but touched with a hint of
fear. She found that to be very charming, but then she had always found him
so. It was one reason she tried to steer clear.
"I'm never difficult," Susan retorted, but it only came out as a husky
challenge. "I'm-" He smoothed a hand onto her upper arm, stopping her words
short. She was at a damned loss for words is what she was.
"Beautiful," Marcus whispered finishing her sentence, his eyes never
leaving hers. "Very."
Susan heard the bottle set down on the deck and his other hand came up to
brush her cheek. She didn't move though every instinct in her told her to
lean back, to get up and leave, but found herself rooted to the spot. Her
own breath catch in her throat as he began to speak again.
"You should go, it's late and we have a full day tomorrow. I'll put the
good Mr. Daniels to bed." His words were low and throaty.
She nodded absently, knowing it was the right response, but she wasn't
listening, just staring at his lips as they spoke. Before she could give it
a second thought she leaned forward capturing his mouth with hers.
Susan's hands found a home on Marcus' jaw, winding into his hair. Their
mouths instantly became a frantic exchange of desperation and want. Ivanova
parted her lips and leaned in closer inviting him all the way in, and he
didn't need to be asked twice.
His hands came up lightly along the back of her arms and across her back,
pulling her off her knees to rest across his lap. She quickly moved a leg
to one side so she straddled him, leaning into him on her knees once more.
He smelled of whiskey, sweat, soap and pungent dirt leftover from his quick
bath. She'd never smelled anything more masculine or sexy in her life right
then. She inhaled him hungrily and wrapped her arms around his neck,
pulling him tightly to her with a little whimper that surprised herself
with it's implied want.
Hands began to wander, as did Marcus' mouth to her neck. His beard was not
as rough as she thought, but his lips were soft and seemingly everywhere
she wanted them to be before she knew she wanted them there.
He was having a hard time working around the high uniform collar and before
she realized what he was doing he deftly slipped his hand on one breast
releasing the snap holding the flap in a flash and slowly slid up the
diagonal seam to the collar and freed the hook there with a feather light
The jacket fell open across the chest with a gentle push to reveal the
Commander's white dress shirt whose collar button was instantaneously
undone buy a passing thumb and forefinger, giving him full access to the
column of her neck which was immediately seized.
She smiled, a bit surprised at his expertise at disabling an unfamiliar
uniform. "They teach you that in ranger training?" she murmured against his
temple. He did not respond until his mouth was ripped away with a throaty
whimper when she leaned away.
She curled her lips reassuringly, never once taking her gaze from his and
removed her hands from him just long enough to tug the black jacket from
her pants and tossing it away with a resounding clatter. They jerked
startled, each gripping the other looking around in response to the foreign
noise hearts beating about a click a minute.
Seeing the hapless victim of their sudden contest, the whiskey bottle, they
both let out a sigh of relief. It was nearly empty now the last few ounces
almost level with the opening. The impact splashed out a small puddle onto
the deck. He wagged his eyebrows mischievously, removing one hand from her
hip, swept away the small puddle. He knocked back the bottle and drained
the last dregs into his mouth, swallowing it with an audible gulp. He sat
the container safely away against the corner.
Just as abruptly as it stopped they nodded to one another wordlessly. He
voraciously took her mouth again his hands curling her around her back
picking up precisely where they left off.
"We can't do this," Marcus huskily groaned minutes later, dragging his
mouth away from her exposed shoulder.
Susan raised her head, giving him a ice cold look, "Excuse me?" her chest
heavily rising and falling. "You're stopping?"
"I don't want to but I... we can't... can't... do this. Not here, not now,"
he said leaning forward to punctuate his words with kisses to her cheeks.
"We could be interrupted."
"Hell, at this point they could JOIN IN for all I care," She said setting
her hands on either side of his face and kissing him deeply once again.
A chuckle passed over her almost convincing lips. "I'd have to say no to
He pulled her into a bear hug, his arms firmly around her waist and back,
essentially stopping her ministrations. "We just can't. Not here. You know
"No, you're right." She said nodding but not looking at him. She gathered
her legs about her and stood. "You're always right." She said crisper
buttoning her shirt and re-tucking it swiftly in. She bent over and grabbed
her jacket and pulled it on with an angry jerk leaving it hanging loosely
He scrambled to his feet in the tiny space. "Susan," he said carefully,
seeing the old protective walls go back up. She shot him a icy look, but
didn't fight him as he slipped his hands about her hips and pulled her to
"Dinner. When we get back, please just say yes," He said softly laying his
forehead to hers. He didn't say it, but he thought, 'we'll do it proper
this time, the way it should be'.
She nodded affirmatively but he could tell she was already sealing shut the
doorway she'd opened. He wished to hell he could know what she was thinking
right now. He kissed her, and she melted a second then pulled away. "I
better get up top." Slipping out the hatchway, she didn't look back.
Marcus watched forlornly after her, damn him and his sense of
responsibility and morality. Why couldn't he be a normal man for once and
think below the waist?
"There you are." he heard Delenn say from behind him as he sat in the small
dining room, playing solitaire. How appropriate, he thought. He swore it
was his lot in life.
"Were you looking for me?" he said tossing out an ace.
"Yes, I was getting worried you weren't feeling well, you've been so
subdued this voyage."
"That can happen when you find what I did." He played playing another card,
looking over to Delenn then back.
"I don't think it has anything to do about that. Am I wrong?"
He didn't move. "A lot on my mind right now," He said turning up a king and
not finding a place to put it, he discarded it. "I'd rather not get into
"You say that a lot about your life. I someday hope you will change that.
There is no burden a friend will not help you bear."
"You get that off a greeting card?" he snapped snidely. She was shocked at
the acidity of his comment. He let out a irritated sigh.
"Sorry that was uncalled for but we've talked about this before. I don't
have much, but what little I have is mine alone and I don't wish to share
it. With anyone. If I change my mind, you'll be the first to know."
"Then we will talk about other things." She said trying another angle.
"You've been quieter on this decision than I expected." She sat down to his
side, facing him expectantly. "It's not like you to not speak your mind."
When he didn't answer but kept playing cards she snatched them from his
fingers and laid them on her lap. "I always get the truth from you, tell
me. WERE WE wrong?"
"If you want me to reaffirm your place in the universe, Delenn, sorry I'm
all out of cozy uplifting claptrap. You better go back to your greeting
cards." He ran his fingers though his hair. Catching her hurt look, her
glassy eyes so close to dropping a sensitive tear, he again started softer.
"Sorry, but you did ask for this."
She nodded in silent agreement.
"Okay. Do I think you were right in hiding the truth from us until you were
cornered? No. We could have saved alot of time, trouble and useless
speculation if you'd been forthright from the beginning.
"Do I understand why the council chose what it did? Yes. That I do
wholeheartedly believe. If it had gotten out to the warrior caste... I most
probably would not be sitting here talking to you now. However... it
doesn't do my kind any good to have the truth withheld from them. We'll
learn nothing from it."
Delenn looked deep in contemplation. "Perhaps it is best not to know what
your own people are capable of."
Marcus sighed. "We're all too aware of what we have done in our past,
Delenn. I don't think you give human-kind enough credit. We like to know
what we've done wrong and overcome it. Learn from it. Build from it's
"Over two hundred years ago we made some terrible, horrid mistakes. Over
six million of our own people killed in the most sick, inhumane, immoral
ways possible in just under ten years. All for one man's racist dreams of
world domination. Some scholars today don't even believe it was real due to
their sheer cruelty. That it was some sort of media hoax, and to suggest
that we were even capable of it they call blasphemy and sedition.
"If things like this are hidden, they will win and rewrite our history, and
all those who died will have done so in vain. If we do not learn from it,
we will repeat it. Clarke is evidence of that. We didn't learn it the first
time around, and it's come back to bite us in the ass."
She cocked her head to one side. "Bite us in the... ass?" she said puzzled.
"Ah, yes... uhm... Har'kuh joon nah tevay tah, evoon'tii wu'tan nee," he
stumbled trying to find a suitable Minbari saying. Delenn nodded now
"We don't like having the truth hidden from us, Delenn. We want to know it
in all, bloody or otherwise. That maybe where we differ from you the most.
We accept we can make mistakes."
"The wounds are still too tender, maybe someday both our world's may be
ready to hear it." She set his cards back on the table. "It has been a long
day, and there is much work ahead. Good night Marcus" She rose, laying a
fond hand on his head and filed out of the room, past Sheridan standing
just inside the doorway
"I don't think she gets it," The Captain said took a seat across from
Marcus. "I've tried to make the same argument before, but I think you did a
better job than I ever did. I think I'll just tell her 'Ask Marcus' from
The Ranger chuckled weakly. "Thank you. Not that I did any good of course."
"You TRIED, that at least counts for something in my book."
Sheridan picked up the deck of cards, looking at them haughtily flipping a
few over from the top, then back. "Everyone else is all tucked in. Quiet.
Feel up to a game of poker?"
Marcus looked at the deck a second. "If you think you can beat me," he
bragged, sweeping the other cards up and handing them to the other man.
"THINK I can beat you? I know I can mister," Sheridan blustered. "I spent
my basic training taking men like you to the cleaners."
"Oh Yeah?" Marcus taunted rubbing his hands together greedily, he could
best this without trying. "I WON my first XO-Sphere in a game when I was
Sheridan chortled and began shuffling them briskly. "We'll see about that."
"Come on, shut up and deal already." Marcus moaned smiling.
The game was over and Sheridan was one hundred seventy-five credits in the
hole. They'd started out not playing with money but soon they were
scrawling slips of paper with dollar amounts and throwing them in the pot.
Marcus had gotten an incredible streak of hands during the game, but his
companion had some complaints.
Sheridan shook his head in disgust. "You are a shyster, my friend. Pure and
simple." A gentle chuckle lightened the accusations. "Either that or you're
the luckiest bastard alive."
"I don't believe in luck," Marcus drolly informed him.
"You sound like Ivanova," Sheridan accused. "And an other thing, how in the
hell did you manage a flush with only one discard?"
"I've got a lot of pockets," the Ranger retorted, gathering the cards up.
"At least I never called with a pair of twos."
Sheridan laughed out loud. "Well this was fun but I think I need to turn
in. What time is the other Whitestar with the charges due?"
"Four or five hours - just a guess. I don't quite know when they were
dispatched since Delenn probably did it before bothering to inform us on
"Agreed, but I think we're beating a dead horse on that one. She's stubborn
as a mule when she thinks she's right." The Captain stood groaning, and
rubbed his stomach. A long yawn split his face in two then he drowsily
spoke again. "You should turn in."
Marcus nodded, tapping the table, "I will in a bit." He wasn't terribly up
to the idea of sleeping I the same room with Ivanova right now. Not being
able to touch her.
The card game had been a good way to take his mind off his stupidity, until
Sheridan curiously asked why he smelled like stale alcohol. Marcus quickly
lied and said it was a old uniform he'd worn in down below. It seemed to do
the trick, but after that he couldn't get his mind of the events earlier in
The older man wagged a finger at him. "That's an order. Get some sleep. I
can't have you dozing and blowing yourself up. I have to win my credits
Marcus saluted nonchalantly with two fingers, but touched by the concern.
After the man had left Marcus played a few games of solitaire then went to
the sleeping cabin. Only the bunk next to Susan was unoccupied. Just his
luck. Then he remembered he didn't believe in luck, and concluded he was
just cursed. Yes, that was it. Cursed with a conscience.
She was tossing and turning on the damned slanted bunk trying to sleep, but
it wasn't coming. She couldn't clear her mind of their little rendezvous.
It was so out of character for her. It had to be the desolation and cruelty
of the scene below. The need to feel something. Anything other than
At first she was angry. Enraged almost, that he ended it moments from the
point of no return. Was he chicken or what? Did he mean it when he said
he'd never done it before, and was that why? Or was he seriously worried
they'd be caught? Was he trying to avoid her the embarrassment of being
caught? Or himself?
But she WAS embarrassed that SHE had lost control, let herself tumble
perilously close to the boundary she'd set so long ago. She knew she was
fooling herself; she'd erased part of that line long ago concerning him.
It'd not taken terribly long to let him in their cozy circle, well not long
according to the Book of Ivanova where the recommended shelf life of
earning trust was years. She'd accepted him in under one.
The truth was she wanted it, and wanted him, and it wasn't the first time
she's wanted to go where they almost went. Just the first time she'd ever
acted on it. Ever felt safe enough, comfortable enough, possibly even
medicated enough, to act on it. She was hurt he stopped it. That HE, of all
people, had to calm her down and bring her back to reality.
She grunted, punching the flat pillow to burn some frustration when she
heard familiar thudding footfalls in the hall coming closer. She quickly
stilled and pretended to be asleep.
The steps neared, then ended next to her bed. What was he doing? She didn't
dare crack her eyes to peek. She concentrated on her breathing being slow
"Plan B then," he muttered walking back out. When the steps were further
off she slid to her feet and peered around the door jam to see Marcus turn
the corner and enter the docking bay that housed the shuttles.
Damn. She furrowed her brow, she never thought of sleeping in the shuttle.
Certainly had to be more comfortable dozing in a chair than those inclined
death beds. She silently shuffled back to bed to try again to sleep. She'd
find a way tomorrow to try to talk to him. But not now, she still had no
idea what she wanted to say.
Marcus dusted off his hands and climbed back into the rover. "Ok, that's
all of them, lets head back to base," he told the other ranger who was
driving and it began it's bumpy journey over the rocky terrain.
The Whitestar had brought fifty nuclear charges and three two seat surface
rover units to make sure they could cover good ground in the harsh
environment. They'd broken up into teams and split up.
They'd mapped the surface and had twenty nine sites to implant charges.
Some got more than a few due to the heavy rock layers in some of the areas.
Those explosions would be spectacular from space. He had to admit he liked
explosions, as long as they were far away. He was a guy and well something
never evolve out. As of late he'd been entirely too close to too many to
count, this would be a nice change of pace to be on the outside of a few.
He was tired, sleep eluded him last night. Riding in this testosterone
enhanced dune buggy wasn't helping, it was threatening to either bounce him
out of his seat and into the nearest boulder or snap his spine in two from
the repetitive jarring landings as they bounded across the arid rocky
landscape. He held on tight and hoped this bump wasn't his last.
When they finally arrived back at the shuttles he stepped out feeling very
wobbly kneed. Once the ground stopped quivering he was fine. He clapped
his hands. "All done on my end, twenty charges, all tucked in warm and
He looked over and saw Susan off a hundred or so feet away, standing alone
at the edge of the plateau where they parked. She was looking over the
valley where the bones lay, from this distance they were nothing more than
white specks on a red rock-strewn plain.
He stepped silently next to her and said nothing. She didn't even look at
him. Neither said a word for minutes until Susan finally spoke.
"John told me what you told Delenn. About our mistakes, and how it was
wrong to hide them without learning from them."
"Okay," He said, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
She only lowered her head and turned walking away. Then, she stopped next
to him, facing the shuttles. "Maybe, just maybe, it's enough that WE know.
And, no, we maybe can't tell anyone, but we can lead by example."
"Speak for yourself, I'm not a leader," He said, turning his head to face
her. "Just a man."
She gave him a scolding look, "You are a leader. If I've ever caused you to
think otherwise, I'm sorry. Old habits are hard to break. You are one of
the finest soldiers I have ever met, and when you are inevitably made
Entil'zha I will be there to shake your hand."
Marcus blinked in disbelief. Who was this person? He looked around for a
pod. She was awaiting a response, he quickly recovered. "I honestly doubt
that day is ever in the cards, but if it does happen by some cosmic
mixup... I learned from the best. Thank you." All of a sudden this had
turned into a mutual admiration society.
His eyes locked with hers and for a moment that heat from the engine room
was present again. He could feel his breathing change just looking at her.
She blushed ever so slightly, then continued to back to the ship where the
other were gathered waiting for the last team to arrive back.
He followed behind Susan, and passing her entered their shuttle. He found
Delenn and Sheridan having a quiet conversation when he arrived. They were
holding hands, it was a very private tender scene.
He grimaced. "Sorry to interrupt."
She smiled warmly, not in the least bothered by his intrusion. Sheridan,
however, looked a bit uncomfortable. "It's alright Marcus. What did you
need?" she asked.
"Should I take a cam unit and go document this while it's still here? I
know you don't want this public, but we should retain some record for-"
"No. We have all the pictures we need from our prior visit. I do not think
anymore are required."
The words hung suggestively heavy in the cabin. He nodded in understanding,
and for a second his mind imagined what those initial photos must have
looked like when the atrocity was still just days old, before they had
dropped nukes in effort to erase it. The blood would still be fresh, the
faces of the warrior caste still in their death masks at moment of their
execution. A cold shudder skittered up his spine.
Well, this time they WOULD erase it by god. And for the first time he
thought that it may not be such a bad thing.
When the last team arrived they loaded the equipment and took off. Arriving
back at the Whitestars they retreated a safe distance, the moon more than a
baseball sized orb in the window. Delenn nodded to Marcus. He hit s
sequence of keys and and all watched in silence as it erupted in a series
of spectacular mushroom shaped fireballs and began to collapse on itself
from the inside out glowing like hellfire itself.
Everyone let out a sigh.
"Initiating jumpgate," Marcus said as the yellow vortex appeared, he
ordered the ship to come around and they jumped away from the horrid place.
Or what used to be a place. Just as they jumped the planet exploded into
shower of asteroids.
It was late. After the fireworks Marcus didn't feel much like socializing.
He now, hours later, sat triggering and resetting his denn'bok in rhythmic
swooshes that were growing faster and faster in sequence until it was
nearly a blur. Finally, with a painful cramp he growled and dropped the
fully extended pike to the metal deck with a loud clatter. He hissed,
massaging his overworked twitching fingers to get the blood flowing again.
"Damn!" He cursed shaking his hand about. "I almost had the record there."
He leaned back into the chair and closed his eyes, running his hands over
his face it briskly, then crossed him over his chest.
Well, it was probably for the best. No one but him would really be
impressed by such a prestigious milestone of three hundred and seventy nine
pike releases in three minutes, anyway. Maybe Stephen was right with all
his talk about that old Freud fellow he kept alluding to.
He picked up the denn'bok and triggered it once more, slipping it neatly in
his belt. That was quite enough of that for one evening, thank you.
Certainly wouldn't want to set another record for most failed attempts in
one 24-hour period that would just be beyond depressing.
He pulled up a novel on the screen. Soon he heard a knock at the shuttle
door. He jumped surprised to see Susan standing in the open doorway.
"You missed dinner. Delenn was concerned, so I brought you some." She said
"Thank you, but I had a meal bar from the stores a bit ago. I've found out
the hard way you don't mix those with real food." He said smiling.
"Ok, then." She sat down the container. "Got room for one more in there?"
He turned the co-pilot chair towards her. "Look what I just found."
She took the seat and swirled to face him, "I'm sorry about yesterday, you
were right - it was an inappropriate time. I don't know what got into me. "
"About half a bottle of whiskey from my estimation." He smiled.
"It wasn't the whiskey, trust me, and I seem to remember having help with
that." She tossed back her auburn hair over her shoulder and leaned back
into the chair, "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that it ended
when it did. But at the same time, you were right, it was the wrong place."
He nodded, looking down at his hands. "Yes it-" he began but she cut him
"How about my place?" she proposed hoarsely. He lifted his head in surprise
at her suggestion. She nodded. "I'll make dinner."
"Dinner..." He repeated back plainly.
"I CAN cook you know. I don't do it much anymore. I'll have to go shopping.
But yeah, dinner."
Her head was to one side, regarding him carefully. There was a softness in
her eyes he didn't often get to witness. "Just tell me when."
"I'll surprise you." She shrugged, her lips pursed.
"You already have."
Her features softened, a heavy flutter of her eyelids, "Good, one more
thing off my list then."
"You have a list, eh? You make fun of me for counting, and YOU have a
"Yeah, you got a problem with that?" She challenged good-humoredly, leaning
forward in her chair. The look in her eyes gave him detailed orders.
"So. Do I get to know what else is on this list?" Marcus said leaning
toward her, just inches away. He could feel her breath blowing over the
hairs in his beard.
"I'll let you know as I mark them off," She leaned in and kissed him
softly, just once.
She pulled away only slightly, seductive smile on her lips. "There's one
more." She whispered.
Four days later
Marcus sat in his corner of the bar, hand tapping out the flight of he
bumblebee on the table. He had to go, but his last contact of the day
hadn't arrived yet. He had to go. He had to go. He had to go.
He looked around, no sign of him. He had to go. He stood, slugged down the
remainder of his drink and slapped a few credit chits on the table for a
tip. He had to go. He had to go.
Just then his contact, slipped in across from him, "Sorry I'm late," the
balding man apologized.
Marcus sneered wearily. "You're not late, Mitch. I'm just in a hurry to be
somewhere else right now, that's all." He sat back down.
"You wanna' we do this some other time?" Mitch asked looking around.
"No, let's get this out of the way." He nodded trying to look affirmative.
He had to go.
Susan was tossing the salad. Late he was late, damn it. He was twenty
minutes late. Finishing mixing, she put it in the refrigerator so it
wouldn't wilt.. Twenty minutes late.
"This could be a good thing." She told herself, as she gravitated to the
bathroom to freshen her make up. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her
lips were covered in blood red lipstick and her hair was in lose curls over
her shoulders. What the hell was she thinking? This was a date. A date with
Marcus. Was she insane? He'd driven her insane by osmosis that was it. He
was a contagion.
She felt her breathing begin to quicken in panic. She should just leave,
say something else came up in C&C. She couldn't do this again. What
happened was a response to the situation, to the death that had been a
shadow at their feet. He was now thirty minutes late. She started to remove
her necklace when the doorchime rang.
She walked out and stared at it, her stomach doing somersaults. Just don't'
answer it , he'll think you're not home, she thought. But he's expecting
you to be here. So what. Just be quiet and he'll go away. He'll never go
away we tried that already.
She licked her lips, "Enter." As the door slid open he walked in ducked in
his head under the angled threshold. His hands were behind his back. Just
seeing him stirred some desire in her, damn she was hopeless. He really
"Let me guess, flowers for being late." She said solemnly, nodding to his
"No, these are just because it's customary when you are invited to dinner,"
He said bringing one hand around. A huge bouquet of Centuari Lillies. He
handed them to her. She smiled taking them, putting them to her nose to
He held up one finger and the second hand came to the front holding a dozen
roses, "THESE are for being late," He smiled. There was just something in
his eyes she just liked, Something she'd always liked she realized. Since
She laughed, "Okay, okay, forgiven," She raised her hands in surrender. "Go
take a seat I'll get this all ready.
"I'll help you," He said taking the flowers from her and going to the
kitchen. "I'll take to finding these a home."
She didn't have more than one vase so the roses sat in it on her kitchen
cabinet, and the lilies were spread around the room in tall glasses and
empty wine bottles. Looked like a floral shop exploded. She liked it. The
dinner had gone well she had decided. They'd talked about absolutely NO
business for once.
The meal was good, if she said so herself. And over coffee, well coffee
like product, they were talking when she remembered she had a gift for him
She rose from her chair at the table and made way across the room. She
pulled a crystal out of her recorder. "I made this for you."
"What is it?"
"When I went to plant the charges with the Captain, I took a cam." She
smiled thinly. "I thought someone needed to have a record of it. We have
the only two copies."
Marcus enclosed the crystal in his hand and squeezed. "I'll make sure it's
kept safe." He said tucking it in a pocket in his duster, giving it a
"I know you will," She said taking her coffee cup and moving to the couch.
"I just uhm, had to do it. Someone on OUR side needs to have proof, it
maybe never will be able to be released, but as long as we know, it still
means something. The fight's not over yet on this."
"I'm tired of fighting," he said sitting next to her. "Sometimes I wonder
what good the rangers are, if there is no peace to achieve... or what peace
there is has even more horrifying costs, like this."
"Peace is relative. Hell, at this point I'd settle for a night's sleep
without being interrupted." She groaned. "One of these days my Lieutenant
will show up dead." She grimaced setting her hands around an imaginary
throat and letting out a stifled gurgle.
"I know not a thing." He belied smiling.
"Of course, I said the same about you." She said dryly, slowly looking
"Oh did you know?" he said feigning insult "I've said nothing but good
things about you!"
She snorted, "I'm so sure." Seeing the look on his face told her he wasn't
He shook his head serenely.
"Not even once?"
"I hold you in the utmost respect."
He smiled, wide. "Kidding. I don't respect you. I'm just here for the free
meal." He lied.
She smacked his arm laughing, knowing he was lying, "Hey!"
'"Well, they don't pay me much, you know!" Marcus protested playfully.
"You ever fill out a Minbari expense report? There's a reason there's no
She laughed. He looked pleased with himself for making her laugh.
This was ok, she decided, this felt good -- for lack of a better word. This
prospect hadn't felt so in a long time, a very long time. But now faced
with it again, she could handle this. He was a good man. She knew his
heart, and had for longer than she'd realized. There was nothing to fear
here, not with him. Even if this didn't work, she knew she wouldn't regret
trying this time.
"Susan, you ok?"
"Hrmmm?" she asked looking up, feeling warmed by the fire in his eyes.
"Lost you there for a minute."
"Just thinking," She softly said.
"Anything in particular?"
"Yes," she said affirmatively, but not feeling like offering, "Would you
like anything to drink?"
"No, I'm fine with this." He raised his coffee cup. "I've never had much of
chance to get the real stuff before, this is a real treat."
"Yes, it is." Susan said. She couldn't say it better herself.
(NO REALLY I MEAN IT)