Title: Neroon's Miracle
Author: Third Charm
Fandom: Babylon 5
Story Type: Seasonal Drama
Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and all subsequent major characters, plots, and ideas are the property of J. Michael Straczynski, Babylonian Inc. and Warner Brothers. The following story was written only for the purposes of entertainment. No income had been made.
Warnings: Very AU, slash, mpreg
Spoilers: You name it; it's in there.
Summary: This is a bit of a sequel to "The Trouble with Teenagers".
Acknowledgments: I must thank ckl for taking the time to beta read this story.
Author's Notes: This is another installment in the "Teenager Series". One Earth year equals 0.74 Minbari cycles. Also, the Minbari words and phrases were found at the "JumpNow" website in John Hightower's Minbari dictionary.
Neroon walked silently into the hospital chapel. There was no one else there, and he was glad of that fact as he walked toward the Altar. Though at this point, he personally wouldn't have batted an eye if the chapel had been filled to the rafters.
He needed to be here and he was NOT ashamed of his adopted faith. But, by Council decree, it would not do for the public to see this. It would not do for the public to see the Satai Na (First Ruler) of the Minbari Cross himself in the manner of the Holy Universal and Catholic Church and then kneel before the Altar before taking a seat in the center front pew. Oh no, having anyone see this would not do at all! It would probably lead to the disintegration of Minbari society if it were known that the leader of the Minbari Federation had converted to Christianity all those cycles ago.
Neroon chuckled to himself as he remembered Garibaldi's reaction to his conversion. "So, finally decided to cut out the middleman, eh? Not that I had, or have, anything against Jeff - hell, he was my best friend - but he got a bit carried away with you all, didn't he?" The old Security Chief had said to the laughter of the rest of the "old crowd". And the look on Delenn's face had been priceless! If Neroon had wanted to be petty, that look alone would have made it all worthwhile!
Laughter, on the other hand, had NOT been the reaction of the newly restored Grey Council to the knowledge that Jeffery Sinclair had not only carried the soul of Valen, but indeed WAS Valen! And they had been EVEN LESS PLEASED to learn of Neroon's conversion. Had Neroon not held his position by the Word and Law of Valen himself, they would have called him Outcast and exiled Neroon and his immediate family from the Federation when they had learned of it. Heaven knew that what was left of the Satai Na's blood family would not have fought such a decree. They had all but cut off relations with Neroon and his mate after they had found out.
The only reason that Neroon, Marcus, and William were still members of the Star Riders was the political power that Neroon and his immediate family brought the Clan. Had Neroon and Marcus had any less political and personal power, they would have been disowned, and their son with them. That the Clan, the family, that Neroon had so loved and respected all his life could turn on him so badly had been an almost mortal blow to the proud Warrior. In that experience, Neroon had finally understood Delenn's heartbreak and pain after her Change, and his remorse regarding his own actions towards the Priestess had been overwhelming. The entire experience had made Neroon reassess the meaning of the word, "family".
Well, after the worst of the anger and shock had worn off - and the Grey Council and Clan Elders had been taught first hand EXACTLY how much power Neroon wheeled as Satai Na - they still refused to let him be honest with the populace, and that included the rank and file of the Clan as well, about his faith. It was just too shocking! The ordinary Minbari would never be able to comprehend such a thing! Why, if it got out, it might cause another Civil War.
Neroon snorted to himself. More likely, if that fact ever got out, it might force the Grey Council into finally, FINALLY, being honest with Minbari people and forced them into telling the populace that Valen had been a Human and Christian himself and that - GASP! - most of the rituals that were followed in honoring Valen were based on the Human Christian religion.
Neroon snorted as he imagined the reaction to THAT piece of news. Oh the horror! The humiliation! The Minbari really weren't the ones to come up with the most mind-twisting religion in known space; they'd just bastardized another races'!
Neroon smiled bitterly as remembered the Council's reaction to his proposal to finally telling the populace the Truth of Valen. Even after the Civil War and the changes to the Council it had brought, even after the repeal of the law forbidding Minbari from marrying outside their race, and the proclamation that Humanity was a sister race, even after the marriages of Delenn and Sheridan and Marcus and Neroon; even after all of those changes, the still closed-minded bigots refused to let the Truth of Valen be told to the people. By all that was Holy, never in his life had Neroon encountered a more entrenched group, not even the old Grey Council!
Neroon sighed and let those worldly frustrations pass from him. He then again knelt and began to pray. At this point, it was all he could do. From here on in, Marcus's life was in the hands of Steven Franklin, the oncologists, and God. Pacing the surgery waiting room alongside his terrified son would help no one, and it might even lead to the temporary insanity of both his and Marcus's guards and aides. Which would then, in all probability, lead to his own trip to the O.R. And Will didn't need to be worrying about both of his parents right now. Here at least, he might be able to soothe is own soul and maybe, just maybe, bring some Divine Help to his suffering mate.
Bitter gall rose in the Warrior's throat after he finished his first prayer. "What an Easter Holiday!" Neroon thought to himself. This was normally a time a joy for his small immediate family. Normally, Marcus, Neroon, and Will would pack up only the most essential effects and retainers of their household and travel to Earth, to the ancestral lands of the Cole family at this time of the Standard year. They would then celebrate the most Holy of the Christian Holidays by attending Mass at the ancient and small stone Catholic church that, even after all of these centuries, still had a family pew dedicated to the Cole family. That church was located in a small village on the Welsh coast of the British Isles. Following Mass, they would go back the ancient cottage that Neroon had bought for his family in that same village and continue the celebration with the reading of the Cole Family Bible and the serving of a traditional Welsh Easter luncheon.
It had amazed Neroon at how quickly the local population had accepted the presence of his family within their midst. The Warrior had thought that there would be many who would resent the "outsiders" and aliens. Yet, when they had heard that Marcus and Will were the last of the Coles, the villagers had opened the hearts and arms to the small family and then promptly closed ranks around them, providing the prominent young family with anonymity and peace every time they visited. Little Wills, as everyone had called him back then, had immediately won his way into the hearts of their neighbors and made friends with the children in the village, which was why the difficulties he had encountered at that so-called school had come as such a shock to his parents. Even Neroon, stand-offish Warrior that he was, had been quickly adopted as one of their own; and that, of course, had come with all the baggage of being part of such a small community, some of it annoying, but most of it comforting to the Minbari who had grown to adulthood within the close-knit Star Rider Clan. That closeness and the privacy provided by that small community had made every Holiday, whether it was Christmas, Easter, or any other spent there special to the Cole family.
This year was supposed to be truly special for the family. In honor of Will's eighteenth Easter and his impending graduation from what the Humans called "high school", Marcus had wanted Will to read the relevant passages from the families' ancient copy of the Holy Scriptures. This year, Will was supposed to lead the choir while his fathers proudly looked on, but now, that was not going to happen.No, not this year; this year, Neroon was praying in the chapel of the Mayo Clinic on Earth while his mala (spouse) of twenty Standard years again fought for his life. This year, instead of proudly starting his journey into his adulthood before his parents and friends, William Durhann Steven Cole was pacing the surgery waiting room and wondering if he would be orphaned early in life as his human father had been before him. Neroon choked back tears at that horrifying thought and began to pray again.
The Warrior needed the comfort of his faith at this moment, and Neroon lost himself in his prayers as he would in his meditations. Neroon was so focused on his prayers that he did not notice the entrance of the chapel's priest. And to say that the sight before him astounded the priest would be putting it quite succinctly. For here was a sight that the poor priest had never thought to see; here was a Minbari, dressed in Warrior black, kneeling in the front pew of his chapel, head bowed over clasped hands, and praying in what appeared to be the Christian manner. What's more, he seemed to have a rosary clasped between his folded hands. Seeing Minbari in this part of Earth was rare in and of itself, but this, this was a sight the priest had never thought to see! Why, this Warrior had just finished the rosary. And then to hear what else was being prayed for!
Neroon had begun to pray out loud. He did not even notice when he did. The Warrior did not speak loudly, but even his softly whispered words were carried in the empty chapel.
"Heavenly Father, I pray for Your Infinite Mercy on behalf of my spouse, Marcus. Please, Father, spare my beloved any more pain. If it is in Your Divine Plan for Marcus to survive this disease, then let him heal without too much more pain. If it is otherwise, if You deem it time to take my spouse from us, his family, then I pray, take Your Marcus quickly and without any more suffering. Please, Father, he has seen too much suffering, too much pain already in his life. Please, Father, spare him any more. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit I pray, Amen," he prayed.
As Neroon finished his prayer, a very harried and worried Michael Garibaldi made his way into the chapel. "Excuse me, Father," said the most powerful corporate, and some would say political, head in known space as he made his way around the still shell-shocked priest. Garibaldi then made his way down the isle, knelt before the Altar, Crossed himself, and then slid into the pew beside Neroon.
"Hello, old friend. I'm sorry to be so late, but the Old Business threw me a few last curve balls before the family and I could get off of Mars," Michael said.
Neroon came out of his trance at hearing the voice of this old family friend. "It is good to see you, Michael. I am very, very glad to see you here. I normally would not impose such a thing as this horrid wait on anyone else, but I seem not to be able to do this, to just wait here so helplessly, as Marcus battles for his life again! It is galling to know that in this, I cannot fight at his side!"
Michael nodded grimly in agreement. "I know. I know exactly how you feel. And buddy, you ARE fighting at his side. Every thought, every prayer, it's a blow against this disease. And you're not alone and neither is Will. You have each other and Lise, Alice, and I are here, too. The girls are with Will right now. The rest of the "old crowd" is on their way as well. Some should be arriving as we speak. And I came to get you before some nosy reporter found you in such a "compromising position"! Come on, let's get back to the families, huh?" Michael said as he tried to both lighten the mood and head off what could become a very BAD political situation at the pass if a reporter ever got wind of it.
Neroon growled at the mention of reporters. "It is most unfortunate that your Master Poet, Dante, had written "The Divine Comedy" before the advent of journalism, as I am positive that the choice of such a career would have been enough to warrant a soul's trip to the ninth circle of perdition!" he dryly said as he got up to the laughter of both Garibaldi and the now functioning priest.
Both men crossed themselves again and began to walk towards the doors, when Michael stopped them before the priest. "Oh, Father…" he started and was cut of by the man in question.
"It is all under the Seal of the Cloth, my son," he answered, already knowing that these men wanted, no, needed anonymity in this matter.
"Thank you, Father," both the old soldiers said and then turned to leave.
As the two who were once enemies and now friends left, the priest shook head and said to himself and the One he knew would always be listening, "You truly work Your wonders in mysterious ways, oh Lord."
When Neroon and Michael walked in to the waiting room, it was to the sight of the entire extended family of the old Babylon 5 Station either taking seats or greeting young Will. Both men chuckled at the horror on the faces of the staff, nurses, and Security teams when they realized that they had GULP; two Planetary Presidents, the ISA President and Vice President, the Centauri Prime Minister, the most important political and religious figure of Narn since G'Quan, the Admiral-in-Command of the ISA Combined Fleets, the Captain of Babylon 5, a member of the Minbari Grey Council, the Narn ISA Ambassador, "Mister Garibaldi" of Edgars-Garibaldi (he alone was terrifying enough, thank you), the Satai Na of the Minbari (they just didn't want to go there), the Heads of the new Intergalactic PsiCorps (shudder), AND THE CENTAURI EMPOROR AND ENTOURAGE (feint and fall dead now) - and their respective families - in this waiting room and the adjoining one!
To a medical Clinic's security chief, this was an oncoming aneurysm! To the medical staff and non-medical staff of the clinic, this was also a political and security nightmare - not to mention publicity nightmare if anything went wrong with the Shai Alyt's surgery! To the old Warriors of the Army of Light, though, the sight of their reactions was a comedy of galactic proportions.
As the years had gone by, they had all learned to find humor in even the most unlikely of places. After all, gallows humor had gotten them all through some of the worst times in recent galactic history. It had gotten them through horrors such as the Shadows, the Drakh, the True Ancient Enemy, the Galactic Plague, Sheridan's ex-wife being elected to the EA Presidency - thank all that was Holy she only lasted one term - and some very public family disasters that were of course paired along with the obligatory severely ticked-off spouses (And poor Londo had cornered the market on this one!). Besides, the betting pool on which of the poor, stuttering staff would break and run first, and how long it would take, had already started. And it looked like Delenn was keeping book this time.
"Oh my, how far the sanctimonious have fallen!" Neroon thought to himself and stifled the urge to chuckle madly at the sight.
Neroon looked further around the room and took comfort in seeing so many of the people he'd come to regard as extended family. Neroon's eyes settled on his son, a young man now and a true Warrior of his people, Human and Minbari alike. Neroon smiled at the sight of Will surrounded by his childhood friends. What brought even more warmth to his heart was the sight of his son being comforted by pretty young Alice Garibaldi. It brought back one of the more comforting memories of Marcus from the last few months. It was heartening to the Minbari to remember those good moments, and not the ones of his love in pain, ill, or so exhausted from treatments that he could not even lift his head from the pillows. So, Neroon let himself immerse in that fond, though slightly embarrassing memory.
They had just sat down to one of those horrible political reception dinners when Marcus had noticed how Will had started to react to Alice Garibaldi, an old friend and childhood playmate of his. Marcus had chuckled and nudged Neroon playfully. "Don't look at the children directly luv, but I do believe that our little boy's biological alarm clock has finally gone off," he had said sotto voiced to Neroon.
Puzzled by Marcus's choice of words, Neroon had taken a quick scan down the table and seen the slight flush in Will's skin. His son was much more animated in his conversation with young Alice and seemed to want her attention completely to himself. That was odd. Neroon took another quick glance – and – oh yes! Oh, No!
OH, NO! There was definitely a slight bluish tinge to the skin at the base of Will's half-Crest! Neroon audibly gasped. OH, NO, NO, NO! His son was half Minbari, as well as only twelve and a half cycles old! He was much too young to react to another in this manner!
Marcus seemed to have been put in high spirits by the sight, and chuckled as he again nudged Neroon to get his attention. "Stop panicking, mala. He's seventeen Standard years old, and it's about time this happened. Most human boys start reacting like this to potential mates at thirteen or fourteen. Personally, I was beginning to worry, but the healers told me that this "late bloom" was a product of his mixed biology. Well, they finally told me after I had pestered the living daylights out of them."
Marcus snorted. "Did you know, mala, that it's "unseemly" to talk about another person's sexuality with a healer, even if it's that minor person's parent?" Marcus chuckled again. "I think I need to have another version of "The Talk" with Will, since he'll probably try to cover any lost ground as fast as possible."
Neroon looked at his husband in shock. Human boys came into their awareness of sexuality at thirteen of fourteen Standard years of age?! Have another version of "The Talk"?! Covering ground as fast as possible?! The Minbari Warrior groaned. Oh may the good Lord help him!
While Neroon had gone into shock at the prospects in front of him, Marcus had thrown back his head and laughed heartily at the poor Warrior's reaction. That laugh had brought Neroon's attention back to his mate. And even though Neroon knew he'd probably looked the fool to an entire room of galactic dignitaries, he was glad to finally be able to make his suffering mala laugh, and broke into glad laughter along with him.
Neroon was pulled from his remembrance by a series of groans and one cheer going around the room. It seemed that Captain Corwin had already won the betting pool. "Well, that was fast!" The Warrior thought as Michael led him to a seat.
When Neroon was seated next to his son, the "old crowd" went into a detailed version of "Remember when…?" in order to take Will's and Neroon's minds off of what was happening, and the "new" versions, versions of stories that had been heavily edited before in order to suit young ears, of old stories seemed to be working for the now flabbergasted younger generation. For Neroon though, each remembrance that involved Marcus was bittersweet. The specter of this being the only way he would have a connection to his soul's mate from this time onward was just too real for the Warrior.
Finally, after another six hours waiting, numerous empty carafes of tea and coffee, the reliving their exploits, and in some cases humiliations, of their younger days, and two more breakdowns by the Clinic staff, a very exhausted Steven Franklin walked into the waiting room. It quickly became silent. Neroon and Will stood as one, and Steven began to give them the news.
"O.K. folks, I can say it's mostly good news." There was a collective sigh of relief from the crowd then. "The chemo – and yes, I know that it's a barbaric treatment, but it WAS the only way to deal with these types of tumors. God! Humans were never made to survive the StarFire! – had gotten almost all of it. There had been very little for us to find and remove micro-surgically. With continued care, Marcus should never have another occurrence. That's the good news, folks. The bad news is that there were complications during the surgery," the doctor said with a grimace. Neroon and Will both tensed and went pale at those words.
Steven went on in the tense silence. "Because this type of cancer makes a human more prone to blood clots even with the use of anticoagulation medications, Marcus developed a pulmonary embolism during the tail end of the surgery. We caught it and were able to deal with it before major damage occurred. But, it has further weakened his system."
"His lungs will never be the same again due to the chemo and the embolism. And his immune system won't ever fully recover either since it was already weakened by his almost life-long exposure to Q-40 residue." Steven shook his head in disgust at this point. "My God! Just what kind of fool takes his kids along to a mining platform?!" he wondered.
"Anyway, the main point is that Marcus WILL recover! It will be a very long and slow process by today's medical standards and he'll never be in top military shape again. But Marcus should still be able to lead a normal and productive life. And, yes, Neroon he should be able to live the full span of his years. I know that you've been worried that his lifespan would be cut short." There were cheers from all corners at this pronouncement while Neroon and Will embraced each other.
"Hold on! Hold on!" Steven broke into the cheering. "This is Marcus "The worst freaking patient in known space" Cole we're talking about, and that means that we are in for one HELL of recovery. He'll be bitchy, crabby, annoying, whining and enough of a pestilence that we'll all be longing for the days of the Shadows before he's finally out of recovery!" Everyone laughed at that statement, while Will let his inner pixie out to play.
"Not fair to Papa, Uncle Steven! Besides, I'd thought I'd won that title away from him already!" the teenager said with a gamine smile that reminded the Doctor of the boy's human father.
"And THAT'S why I'm not your primary doctor anymore!" Steven growled out to the hysterics of the crowd. "O.K., he should be in an ICU recovery room by now. Awake is another story. And, sorry to everyone else, but for now, it's immediate family only. The rest of you can pester the hell out of him tomorrow. Oh! And just how in the Hell did the whole crew get into the "family only" waiting room?!"
"Why that is easy, my good doctor! I do believe that Marcus has been formally adopted, at least temporarily, but most of the families here!" Londo added in his most Imperial voice.
Neroon looked at his friends, no, his family in shock. They had gone through all of that legal trouble just to be here with him and his son in their hour of need?! The Warrior knew he should say something profound and meaningful at this point, but the only thing that came to his mind and out of his mouth was, "Oh God help me! I now have the inmates of the galaxy's largest mental ward as my in-laws!" That statement sent the crowd into another round of hysterics.
Neroon sat in a chair by his mala's bed and gently held Marcus's unencumbered hand while he slept. Marcus had awakened from the anesthesia for a few brief moments a short time ago and had asked for Neroon and Will the minute he'd opening his eyes. Both had been there for him. The former Ranger was now sleeping off the rest of the effects and their son had curled up in a recliner on the other side of the bed. Will was finally catching up on some much needed rest. Neroon took this time to say a brief prayer of thanksgiving before taking up his vigil over his family again.
The hospital chaplain had finished visiting another patient when he saw the again praying Minbari Warrior through the open door. For some reason, the priest felt the need to walk to him. Perhaps it was personal curiosity, perhaps the will of God, and the priest would never be able to tell which it was, but that need took him to Neroon's side.
"Hello, Father," the Warrior greeted him without ever turning from his mate.
"Hello as well, Satai – I believe is the proper title?" the chaplain replied.
"Yes, it is, Father," Neroon answered the question.
"This is your Marcus, then?" the priest asked.
"Yes, Father. This is my mala, my Marcus, my Miracle."