Writer's notes: I had been kicking around the idea of a B5 fanfic, but I did not know where to start. I knew that I wanted to focus on Ivanova and Marcus, but they are very broad characters that have deep and complex histories. It was my friend Scififreak (whose a Trekkie, and not into B5 whatsoever) who gave me the idea which flourished into this piece. I thank you, Scififreak. Very very much I thank you.

Continuity: Set during the episode "Rising Star," from the Fourth Season. This story was written before I had knowledge of a particular short story of JMS'. In this piece, the short story is obsolete. Thank you. :)

Disclaimer: None of the chars in here are mine. They are owned by J. Michael Straczynski, Babylonian Productions, and a big part by Warner Bros. I'm not getting paid, I only want to share what I have written. :)

Personal Log: Commander Susan Ivanova

I should have died, but I didn't. My wounds were serious and I would only last a few days, another week at best. The Minbari tried to hide this from me, but I knew it was true. Just to be sure, I asked John, and he confirmed my suspicions. There was no hope for me and I was prepared to die. I had no out-standing quarrels with friend or family (thanks very much to Uncle Yosef and Commander Sinclair for this). I had made peace with myself; I had made peace with God; and I had made peace with my soul. I was ready to die . . . but that rat-bastard changed everything.

I should have seen something . . . I should have let myself see what he felt for me. It had been so long since someone felt those feelings for me . . . maybe I had grown cold to it . . . . I sure thought I had. I saw the signs he gave me, but I would not give in to them. Could not give in to them. I did not want to be hurt again. I knew that he would never hurt me intentionally, though. In all the time I spent with him, I gave him nothing but grief, and he still would always come back. The dedicated bloody bastard. Maybe if I tried a little harder, let myself reciprocate the love . . . maybe now he wouldn't be dead. Dead. Marcus Cole was dead. Because of me. He gave up his own life-force to me, and took my place. It shouldn't be that way, but there was nothing I could do. I tried to stop him . . . but my body would not let me. I was alive . . . he didn't know the great pain . . . pain that it would cause me . . . but maybe he did. He had lost everything and he felt that it was all his fault. Maybe he thought saving me would give himself redemption. That maybe he finally did something right.

My life, I am even more scattered than I was before. I thought I had found my place in life, now I wasn't as sure as before. I can't handle being here anymore, when I do not even know myself anymore.

Delenn stood in front of the body of Marcus Cole. Before a human funeral was to be given, she had to perform Anla'Shok Sacred Rites: the blessing of the body and the soul. She placed her hands on Marcus' shoulders, pale hands in contrast with the dark fabric of his Anla'Shok dress. Lennier, down at Marcus' feet, lit the wicks of the final candle. Unlike the other candles that encircled Marcus' feet, this one had two wicks and was not straight, but spiral. It colored white and black: a representation of the complete Human/Minbari soul.

The words that Delenn spoke were both in Station English and in Minbari. "In the name of Valen I give the Marcus Cole of the Anla'Shok. He lived for the one and he died for the one as a servant of the light." She raised one hand and held it out to Lennier.

Lennier came to her side and places a small, sealed packet in her out-stretched hand.

Delenn opened the packet then started to sprinkle the contents of the packet over Marcus' head and shoulders. Then she sprinkles the rest of the contents down his slanted body.

Once the herbs had been spread, Delenn returned to her position behind Marcus' head and brought her hands into the Minbari Prayer form. Lennier stepped back to Marcus' feet and does the same. They both start to meditate.

Suddenly, a tremor shot through Marcus' body, then the body started to convulse. The slacked jaw fell open and a long deep breath was drawn in by the lungs that had gone many hours being silent without air. His eyes blinked open then started to dart side-to-side around the room.

Delenn's concentration was broken at the sudden movements of Marcus' body. "In Valen's name!" She backed away from the re-animated body, her eyes wide and confused.

Lennier quickly stepped backward, and locked his eyes on Marcus.

Marcus was not sure at all, for a moment, where he was. He recognized the person in front of him, and he recognized the voice of the person behind him, but their names escaped him. Where was he? How did he get here? Who was he? The questions swam around in his head at an astounding rate . . . and he could not find answers to any of them . . . except . . . except for a name. He remembered a name. Susan. It wasn't his name; he knew that much. It was the name of the woman who he loved. The woman who he had sacrificed everything for to allow her to live. He gave up his own life force for her. Then how could be still alive?

"You have been given a great gift, Marcus," a voice said to him.

Who? Wait . . . wait, he knew that voice. "And what gift is that, Master?" he said as he turned to face the person who the voice belonged to.

"You are special, Marcus. I know I have told you this before," the man said, as he stepped away from the shadows.

They were now on Minbar, in the same training center that Sech Turval, the same man who was now standing before him, had taught him in. "Yes, you had, but . . . "

Turval smiled. "Didn't believe it, I know. With your great sacrifice, you have been rewarded with something very few will ever see."

Marcus looked at him. "Which is what?"

"You must discover this for yourself. You still have a long road a head of you to travel. Fare thee well, Marcus Cole of the Anla'Shok." He bowed to Marcus, and then the surroundings faded away, melting into the present.

Marcus stepped off of the bed. His legs still weak and not quite used to the pressures of his weight combined with the weight of the artificial gravity. He started to stumble toward the floor but was able catch himself, awkwardly, by taking a few steps toward Lennier and planting his feet firmly. "Susan. I must see Susan. Now." The words came out of his mouth as dry and raspy sounds, barely understandable. He repeated the words again and again. With each time, the words become stronger and more recognizable than before. "Please. Please. I must see Susan." Tears started to run down his cheeks uncontrollably.

Delenn listened to Marcus then finally nodded to Lennier.

Lennier gave Delenn a quick nod and went to Marcus' side. "I will bring you to her." He reached for Marcus' arm.

Marcus let Lennier take him by the arm and lead him out of the Sanctuary. That's where he was. They must have been giving him the Sacred Rites. He must have been dead for sometime, then. It was tradition to give the deceased the ceremony at least sixteen Earth hours after death. All that time . . . he couldn't remember anything. He remembered saying his final farewell to Susan, and then he just drifted off. The time between was dark and cold. Frozen. It was a transitory state. The time in-between. It might be for the better that he did not remember it, he thought. A brief moment later, he gave it another thought. He thought of his brother William and what he might have said during his short visit to the Other Side.

When Lennier and Marcus were out of the room, Delenn went to the Interstellar Com to contact Minbar.

I love you, Susan.

The words, the sweet words, still echoed in her mind. They were crisp and clear and completely recognizable as words said by Marcus. His voice was stuck in her head. Maybe it was some sort of side-effect of the Machine; you receive a person's energy, but you also receive some of their emotional and psychological traits. She had already thought or said the word "bloody" half a dozen times. Maybe it would not stay around that long . . . . But she secretly hoped that it would. It would be a part of him that she would have forever. Something that no one could take away from her.

Why had she been so utterly stupid? The man obviously was madly in love with her. She loved him back, too. Secretly, of course. It was something that she had denied herself and eventually, she came to believe it. All love is unrequited. She had told that to Stephen. It wasn't true . . . but it was something she had to believe in order to survive. This belief became a barrier for her to hide behind . . . to hide herself from the full extent of the loss. If she believed that she did not love him back, it would be easier for her to move on . . . to live her life.

But how could she move on after this? The pain and hurt that she suffered . . . it was so much more than what she had felt for the death of her father, her brother . . . even, her mother. Marcus gave her his life force. She didn't do anything that jeopardized his life or that contributed to his death. No, what she did was much worse. He gave himself willingly for her . . . and she knew that she would have done the same for him, if it came down to it.

She couldn't handle this. She would have to leave Babylon 5. Leaving would be the only way for her to live, to grieve, and to move on with the rest of her life. Marcus was gone, and so was this chapter of her life. It was now permanently closed to her. She only hoped that John would understand. He should be able to understand: he had lost his wife . . . but only to get her back again . . . just in a different form.

Her door beeped.

She sighed then drank a small glass of vodka. She sat down the glass by the other three glasses . . . she did not want the wolf and her cubs to visit her tonight. "Please, go away." Her voice was hoarse from crying.

"Commander, I really need to talk to you."

Lennier? What the bloody could he want? She didn't reply.

"Commander?" Lennier repeated after a few minutes of silence. "I've come on Delenn's behalf. There is something you must know."

His voice sounded pressing. Urgent. She just hoped that he wasn't there to say he was sorry that Marcus was gone. She didn't need anyone else's sympathy. Sympathy was for the weak. She drank another glass of vodka. "Come in."

The door opened and Lennier looked inside. His eyes fell on Ivanova. She was sitting on her couch, dressed in black night garments, with four glasses sitting in front of her. Three of the four, the tall glass and two of the smaller ones, were empty. The last one, a smaller one, was filled to the rim with a clear liquid, and was untouched. Ivanova's hair was pulled to one side in a tight braid that rested on her shoulder. There were dark bags under her eyes, and her skin was pale, almost translucent. Lennier hoped that it was just the dim lighting in the room that made her appear as so.

"Well, what did you want to tell me?" she asked, without even looking at him.

Lennier stayed close to the door. "I came to tell you that there was someone who needs to speak with you immediately."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"You don't need to, Commander." There was a shuffle in the hallway as Lennier stepped inside the room to allow whoever was with him some space to enter.

"Hello, Susan." Marcus' voice now was at its normal tone and volume. He had managed to gain most of his control back . . . the parts that mattered, anyway.

She heard the voice, but not could not believe it. It couldn't be. It just wasn't possible. She knew this, and reminded herself of this, but turned her head carefully toward the door. "Your . . . . your . . . . " She saw him . . . very not dead. But it couldn't have been real. He died. She was sure of it. She would not have lived if he hadn't died.

"I've got you at a loss for words; that's a lovely start." He gave her a light smile. Seeing her again, he could feel that void that had formed when he gave his life for her disappear. She was his to have if she was all right with that. She had to be. He did not know what he would do if he lost her a second time.

"You're real?" Her voice was low and hoarse but was hopeful. She wanted it to be true. Oh dear God how she wanted it to be true. It probably wasn't. It probably was just a dream, or maybe a hallucination caused by the vodka . . . if someone had mixed it with something else. Her thoughts were far-fetched, but so was what was happening around her.

"I will leave the two of you alone, now," Lennier said, a small smile on his face as he bowed, then turned to leave. The door closed after he left.

Marcus nodded. "Quite real." It pained him to see her so distraught over him, but he felt a twinge of joy. She did care for him if he had that much effect on her.

"You're supposed to be dead."

Marcus shrugged. "I got better." Without an invitation, he walked over to her and sat next to her on the couch. From what he could tell, she had nice quarters. Exactly what he had pictured her as having: nice and orderly, like everything else in her life.

"You shouldn't have done that, Marcus. You should have let me die."

He shook his head. "I couldn't do that. You are still needed, Susan. Still wanted." He spoke as he looked at her thoughtfully.

"And you aren't?"

"No," he paused, as he looked directly at her, into her eyes, trying to form a connection with her. "I'm not. You have so much going for you, Susan: a job that someone can really be proud of; friends who care deeply about you; and respect from the people whom you work with. Some people are not as lucky as that. Do you know what it feels like to have nothing, Susan? I had no friends, no family. My only moral obligation in life was to live and to die for the One. I had nothing else. Nothing pushing me. Nobody to care bout. Nobody that cared about me. Until . . . until I met you. You are everything to me, Susan. I was not going to allow you to die when it wasn't necessary."

His words hit nerves within her. She had thought the exact same way about herself. Now she felt very foolish for having underestimating herself to such a degree. The words hurt. The words stung. She wanted to lash out at him for saying such things . . . but he was right. He was absolutely right. She had a good job that she was proud of; she had friends who deeply cared about her; and she had respect from her coworkers. Believing the opposite of the truth, it was a belief system of hers that started when she was ten years old . . . after her mother had killed herself. She hid her true self away from everyone, not wanting to have what happened to her mother happen to herself as well. With so many years of hiding, she just grew natural to hiding and to underestimating things about herself. Even important things that mattered a great deal to her.

Tears started to return to Susan's eyes, but she said nothing.

"Susan," Marcus said, as he moved closer to her. He placed an arm around her slowly, and laid his head on her shoulder.

Susan did not try to move . . . did not try to protest. She let him do it . . . she wanted him to do it.

"I love you." He looked up to her face as he said the words. "I have always loved you, Susan, since our first meeting. You are able to mesmerize me, Susan, to have me under your full control. I had a hard time with keeping you out of my mind. Very few people . . . not even a few . . . have had that effect o me. I lost the other one." His voice grew lower as he spoke of the death of his girlfriend. "I wasn't going to let you share the same fate. Not when there was something that I could do."

Actually, seeing him and hearing him say that he loved her, it was much different than before. Chills started running down her back as her body started to shake. What she said now would dictate what would happen to them in the future. Everything fell down to her words.

Her mouth was dry. How could she say what she wanted, and needed to say, correctly, if even her mouth was against her? That would be just another obstacle for her to overcome. Damnit! She was going to say it right.

"I love you too, Marcus." The words were low, but they were clear and crisp. She didn't stumble over them . . . . Her body quickened, and tears came to her eyes. Oh God, how she hoped that this was not a dream.

He knew it. He just knew it. He wasn't just reading signs. He was right. He lifted his head and tilted it to the side so that he could look into her eyes. Without another word, without another sound, he kissed her.

Susan was jolted at the sensation that the kiss sent through her. She kissed him back. This was what she had wanted since their meeting nearly two years ago. She had completely given into the temptation, and knew that it was a very good thing. His kiss was soft, tender, and non-evasive. The bristled hairs of his mustache brushed gently against her lip. The kiss was nothing like any of the kisses that she had experienced before. This one, she got a feel for who Marcus Cole really was. His life and soul were in this kiss. She felt an underlining sense of hunger but it was neither strong nor over-powering. This was the sort of kiss that was reserved for those who had ever-lasting love for one another, or true love. Love was not unrequited. If it was, she would not be feeling how she felt now. She felt whole. She felt like she had gained something that had been lost. In truth, she had gained something that she did not even know she had.

She couldn't break it. There was no reason to break it. If anyone tried to disturb them, she was going to just let them have it. This was a new area for her. She had never told anyone her true feelings for when it came to the heart. Maybe it was something she should continue.

She didn't break away from him nor did she tell him to go to hell and leave him feeling empty and cold. She stayed and returned the affection . . . not even in his own dreams did it go that well. Something would always go wrong. In reality, it was different.

His heart pounded loudly against his chest, and he could hear thumping in his ears. He was trying to go slow with her. He thought that the situation could move quickly, but he was unsure of some things . . . he didn't know exactly how to handle himself. She was the right one for him to have held out for. He knew that for a while now. He just never thought that their relationship would reach this point. There were so many barriers, maybe, in a way, dying was not such a bad thing. She needed the kiss as much as he did, he could tell. She was being soft, not at all over-bearing with the kiss, and was taking it slow. Much like the ideal passionate kiss should be. He had waited a long time for this to happen: he wasn't going to screw up everything now, so he continued the kiss.

Susan finally broke off the kiss. She pulled back, and broke her arms away from his neck. She brought her hand in front of her, and started to bend each finger, trying to get the circulation going.

"What happened?" Marcus opened his eyes and looked at her.

"I broke the moment. Have you thought about what you are going to do now?"

He blinked. She had skirted the subject. "Was it something that I did?" he questioned.

She shook her head and gave him a small smile. "You were great. My fingers had fallen asleep. It must be pretty late . . . I have never had that happen before."

"I didn't know that could happen."

She shrugged. "What about what you are going to do now?"

"I haven't given it much thought, really. My main obligation was to find you. Other than that, I don't know. Who said I had to do anything?"

"That a good choice as any, though, it's going to become a great deal more quieter around her after Clark is taken out of office."

He shrugged. "We'll find something to do."

She smiled. "I'm sure we will."

Just looking at her, he wanted her. Right now. Later, they might not have a chance. Things were coming. Big things. Things concerning what Turval had said. This was the right time, the right place, and they were the right ones. "Susan, I'm ready."

She blinked. He couldn't, could he? "You don't mean . . . ?"

He nodded. "Yes. I had told you that I had found the right one, but she didn't know it yet. You are the right one, Susan. You are the one who I have been holding out for. Lets do it right now."

She blinked again. It was happening so quickly. She wanted it, though. Really wanted it. Oh, bloody, she should have seen this coming. "All right, but I must warn you, I haven't done it in a long time."

He shrugged. "It's like riding a bicycle: you never forget."

Her right eyebrow arched. "And how would you know that?"

"I heard it somewhere. Come on, quit stalling," he said and grinned. He removed his brooch, set it down, then started to remove his jacket. He folded the jacket, and placed it nicely on the couch.

She got up from the couch, took off her bathrobe, then started to remove her silk pants.

He grinned. "That's the spirit." He removed his belt then started to pull his tunic over his head.

Susan's eyes were locked on his torso. She had never seen him without a shirt on before. He was pale, but well toned and conditioned. Every muscle in his arms and chest were smooth and the skin looked soft and uninjured. He was flawless. With what he was, she had expected some sort of scaring. But there was nothing. Her breath became stuck in her throat as she stared.

Marcus gave her a smirk. "Is that pleasure that I see on your face, Susan?"

Susan let out a soft grunt, then blinked her eyes a few time to break the connection. She pulled her top off over her heard, and with her back to Marcus, started to walk toward the bed.

Now it was Marcus' turn to stare. Maybe now it was a good time to tell her that he had never seen a naked woman before, too. Never. Maybe she had expected it, though. Probably not. Beyond this point, there was no turning back, even if he wanted to, which he didn't . . . but he would have liked to have the option. No, he was going to go through with this, even though he did not know how to do the motions, or the order of them. He was not going to be in control, but that was fine with him. All he had to do was surrender to his emotions and urges and let them see him through. All he had to do, really, then was sit back and enjoy the ride . . . and hope that he measured up to Susan's standards.

Susan signed. She was already in bed. "Are you coming?"

Marcus carefully, and slowly, started to remove his pants. "Yes, just trying to draw out the moment. I want this to be memorable."

Susan rolled her eyes. This was going to be a long night.

~More to come. Just give the writer some more time and she will get back to you shortly~