I'm sorry of the time between the chapters, but my work took me much time these last months and translating from French isn't really easy. Sorry for the poor page layout, especially in dialogs, and the errors in the language. Since I have lost contact with my English writing beta reader, if someone is interested in helping me correct my texts, just send me a PM.

Chapter 8: Pieces of the puzzle

A few days later, Ivanova, declared officially in convalescence, was transferred to the presidential palace under the care of two nurses. Installed in an armchair, she was looking to the park which was next to the residence without really seeing it. She hardly heard the door opening and David's small steps coming towards her. The child cautiously held a tray with a cup of tea.

"Mom asked me to bring you that…" he said.

Ivanova forced herself to smile to her godson and sipped the tea, although she wasn't thirsty. The only presence of David, with his innocent green eyes, was enough to dissipate part of the black thoughts she brooded over permanently. Since she had seen him for the first time, in his cradle, the little fellow had taken an important place in her heart and she knew that he would always keep it, no matter what it would happen. She felt the child's small hand posing on her arm. David wasn't saying anything, doing only this simple contact to try to comfort his godmother whom he felt, with his childish instinct, going deeper and deeper in the unhappiness. Susan understood his gesture and she smiled with conviction.

"Don't worry for me, David. I just need time to get better…" she explained

The child, sensing her frankness, smiled widely to her and both remained there, looking at the landscape changing under the light wind…

At the hospital, the instruments which were monitoring Marcus' breathing and heart rate began to wail, and the Ranger opened again his misty eyes on the world. He suffocated and a voice said him to cough before a burn in his throat made him breathe freely. Marcus' sense of vision cleared up progressively, and he finally managed to more or less clearly distinguish the minbari doctor leaning over him. He tried to speak but no word came out the barrier of his lips. The doctor made quickly sure that his vocal cords hadn't been damaged by intubation and told him to remain calm and silent. Slowly, the confusion reigning in the Marcus' spirit calmed down. Some parts of the last events, however, remained still vague; he was unable to remember some details with precision. He let himself go and went back in sleep whereas the doctor was completing his clinical examination…

At the presidential palace, one Ranger had just arrived with the news of Marcus' awakening, and he was immediately introduced in the presidential office. Sheridan heard what he had to say and then sent him back to Tuzanor before going into his wife's office.

"Marcus just awakened…" he said just after entering.

Delenn raised her head from the file she was examining.

"Did he say something?"

"No, the doctors say that intubation, without damaging his vocal cords, made them swell and it will prevent him to talk during a few days. For the rest, he will have to remain at the hospital one week or two, time necessary for his various fractures to mend…" Sheridan explained.

Delenn closed her file.

"Did you say this to Susan already?"

He shook his head:

"No, we will tell her this evening, she needs to rest before…"

In her room plunged in darkness, Susan Ivanova was lying on her bed, her eyes widely open, and tears came out without she could hold them. She had felt Marcus' awakening with her latent telepathic powers and various emotions had attacked her without her being able to bear them. She remained a long time in this position, crying silently, and then she managed to put herself together. Being Russian, she didn't really believe in destiny but since Marcus had escaped to death one second time was kind of a miracle and she saw some sign there. This time, it would be necessary for them to have the discussion that they couldn't have eight years ago, and she wouldn't shrink again.

A few days later, John Sheridan paid a visit to Marcus, still sitting in his hospital bed. His vocal cords finally enabled him to communicate and he told him in detail what had occurred.

"How are Susan and David?" he asked at the end of his story.

Sheridan carefully chose his words to answer him.

"David is well, Susan is still in convalescence but she's getting better and better…"

It wasn't completely true, especially morally speaking, but he didn't want Marcus to worry.

The phantom of a smile passed on the Ranger's face and he only nodded. Sheridan smiled to him.

"I already did it on several occasions when you were in a coma, but I still wanted thank you for what you did…"

Marcus raised his head.

"I did what I had to do. I couldn't let anyone hurt David…"

Sheridan shook his head pensively.

"To tell the truth, I expected something like that one day or another. That's for this reason we overprotected David since his birth, but it wasn't the solution. He was confronted violently with xenophobe hatred and he will have to grow up with that…"

Marcus plunged his gray glance into the president's.

"He'll do it, he's a solid child. As I told you he stood up against our attackers without blinking, he has temper and he knows what he is worth…"

Sheridan sensed the affection that Marcus had for David but also the subtle change which has occurred. Marcus seemed better, much more serene, as if he had found a new reason to live. However, all wasn't settled yet, and both men knew it.

"When will I be transferred to Tuzanor?" Marcus asked.

Indeed, it was the custom for the Rangers to complete their convalescence, when it was possible, to Tuzanor, inside the health centre of the training complex.

"The doctors didn't declare yet you were transportable. You were seriously wounded and you will remain here for the moment until they made sure that there is no other damage…" Sheridan answered.

Marcus simply nodded. He knew perfectly that once more his body had been severely wounded and ignored what eight years in cryogenics had done on the level of his physical resistance.

"But the Ranger masters asked for the permission to visit you, they will come the day after tomorrow…" Sheridan finished.

That brought back a franker smile on the Ranger's face. The president got up.

"I have to go back to my occupations, unfortunately, but don't hesitate to call us if you need something…" he said.

"Thank you for your solicitude, Mr. President…" Marcus respectfully nodded.

When Sheridan came again to the presidential palace, he found Susan sitting in the living room of the private apartments, a book in her hands.

"How is he, John?" she asked.

Sheridan smiled.

"He gets better and better, he could speak to me and the doctors are trustful…"

Susan shook only her head before saying:

"And me? When will I be authorized to go again to my occupations?"

Sheridan raised an eyebrow.

"Why? Aren't you well here, with us? In any event, the doctors didn't declare yet you passed fit for the service. You had a serious cranial trauma, inter other things…" he pointed.

"I know, John, but my ship needs me and…" Susan sighed.

He didn't let her finish.

"And it is out of question that Delenn and let you leave while you're not in position to take again your duties. If I must call the headquarters myself, I will do it…"

Susan answered nothing. She knew that they were worrying sincerely for her and that John was able to follow through his threats.

"Very well, I understood…" she said.

Sheridan had a smile.

"Think only to rest…" he said kindly before entering his office.

Susan nodded and, once the president had gone into his office, she posed the book she was reading. The inaction weighed her really now, even if she was conscious of what she owed to John and Delenn. But of now knowing Marcus being in the clear confirmed her in her resolution to speak to him before she would be passed if for the service. However, in spite of that, a part of her refused this discussion, wanting to avoid all that it represented, all these things remained unsaid, this relation stopped without having really started. A noise just behind the couch drew her from her thoughts. David had just returned from the monastery where he was studying the language and the culture of his mother's caste and he was using the time he had before his tutor's arrival to come and see how his godmother was. He came and kissed her.

"How was your day?" she asked him.

The child straightened his traditional minbari clothes and sat down near her.

"Did you know there were eleven different words to say "landscape" in minbari of the religious caste? " he asked.
He added to his question an amused smile, which calmed down Susan. She had never succeeded in understanding all the subtleties of the minbari language of the religious caste, having only learned the basis to be comprehensible for the crews she formerly ordered aboard the White Stars. But David had learned very early all these subtleties of this language and the innumerable traditions of his mother's caste and his sharp intelligence found its account there. "You know very well that I can utter only some words, little one…" Susan answered him with tenderness.

But she didn't have time to say more because Vultan, David's minbari tutor, had just entered the room. He greeted her respectfully and took along the boy with him. Susan remained alone, in a meditative mood…

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