"I'll have this ready in a moment." Captain Lochley finished the last of the report before looking at the man waiting patiently on the other side of her desk. "Sorry for the delay. We've been trying to adjust to the new way security is run."
"Yes, I'd heard the Alliance is now in charge of security." Ian Johnson pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Are they really adding aliens to the security force?"
"They are currently returning Narns to security and are working on adding members of the other species." She removed the data crystal and offered it to the man. "After that unfortunate incident concerning the replacement security officers, Mr. Allan has taken a stand on bringing in more people from EarthForce. Apparently he would prefer to use people already on the station." She frowned. "As did his predecessor."
Johnson looked alarmed. "I wouldn't think that would be a good thing."
"We're keeping an eye on it." Lochley assured him.
"And Garibaldi?" Johnson asked delicately.
Lochley's eyes turned icy. "Still on the station but no longer just in Downbelow. He's finally made an appearance and ended up in Medlab, beaten up pretty badly. The President insists on leaving him alone." She drummed her fingers impatiently on the desk. "I can't seem to get him to realize that the man's a danger every minute he's on this station."
Johnson looked thoughtful. "Has Garibaldi been approached by any of the anti-Sheridan factions?"
"Not that I know of. What's disturbing is that Ambassador G'Kar seems to have resumed his friendship with the man."
Johnson's eyes widened as he processed this information. "G'Kar has acquired a very strong following. If Garibaldi were to influence him ..."
"No." Lochley shook her head firmly. "G'Kar is strongly behind the President and the Alliance. But it does set a bad precedent."
Johnson looked as if he wanted to press then changed his mind. "The telepath problem ..." He started then paused. "Could Garibaldi have had a hand in that?"
Lochley snorted in disgust. "I seriously doubt it. When Ambassador G'Kar offered the telepaths hiding on the station sanctuary on Narn, Garibaldi was still cowering Downbelow. Probably drinking himself stupid."
"But telepaths are still coming through the station and escaping to Narn."
Lochley nodded tersely. She had orders to find out who was helping the rogue telepaths escape to the station but she was dragging her feet doing it. After all, once they reached the station there wasn't much she could do about it and to be honest her sympathies lie with the rogues in this case.
She couldn't help but smile briefly at the memory of Byron's face when Lyta had presented G'Kar's offer to the telepaths. While he claimed to have the best interest of the telepaths at heart, in reality Byron had wanted the drama of being a messiah or even a martyr and G'Kar's low-key solution had burst his bubble. Narn needs telepaths and you need a home. G'Kar had offered. Come to Narn and we will find a planet you can colonize once you are ready. The majority of the telepaths had eagerly agreed and a Narn transport had taken all of the telepaths who wanted to go away.
Now that security was run by the Alliance, the telepaths were considered safe once they reach the station; not even the PsiCops had authority over them once they were here. The President had been very firm about that and the Alliance had agreed.
"Any news on this new 'homeland' G'Kar has promised them?" Johnson asked.
"Yes, actually. Apparently there is a suitable planet currently claimed by the Gaim that was depopulated by the Shadows. The Narns are negotiating a deal for it. I haven't heard anything other then that."
"Interesting." Johnson glanced at the time. "My transport leaves in forty minutes." He rose and Lochley had to wonder again why EarthForce insisted on a courier to fetch her reports. "See you again in two weeks."
Johnson walked from the Captain's office and toward the transport, not noticing the Centauri who followed him to the docks, making sure he was on the shuttle out to the transport before making his way to a public comm system. Once there, he sent a quick 'alert' message to his contact on the transport to let them know Johnson was on his way and then a longer message to another contact on Earth. Once that was done, the Centauri returned to his studies.
Zack Allan stepped into the Medlab, stopping in surprise at the sight of G'Kar sitting next to Garibaldi, reading the texttyper. He'd heard the Narn was visiting Garibaldi regularly but hadn't really believed it. Guess he should have. He took a deep breath and walked over.
Garibaldi looked up as he approached. One of his eyes was still black and bruises were still starkly visible but his eyes were clear and steady and much more alive then when he'd first walked back onto the station. For a moment Zack saw the Garibaldi he'd known for so long in those eyes and he wavered.
G'Kar started to hand the texttyper back then realized Garibaldi's attention was elsewhere. He looked up. "Mr. Allan. May we help you?"
Zack paused briefly for a moment then he remembered what Garibaldi had done and his lips thinned. "Just taking care of some business." He held up the tag.
G'Kar looked pained. "Is that really necessary?"
Garibaldi rested a pacifying hand on the Narn's near arm and shook his head then held out his arm.
"Oh, very well." G'Kar said with a sigh, leaning back so Zack could step close and lock the bracelet back on the man's wrist. After making sure it was secure, he nodded to the Ambassador, turned on his heel and walked out, stopping at Stephen Franklin's gesture and walking to join him.
"Is that necessary?" The doctor asked. "I mean, you could have waited."
Zack shrugged. "Prefer not to. He could easily lose himself in the station." He hesitated, rocking back on his heels. "What amazes me is that he's allowing it."
Zack looked back to see G'Kar earnestly talking with Garibaldi. Neither was paying any attention to them. Even so, he spoke in a low voice, "See, we don't have just cause to tag him. If he were to protest then I'd have to take the tag off. And you can bet he knows that."
Stephen frowned, wondering why the man was allowing it then he remembered something Brother Theo had said.
"I don't believe he's ready to fight back yet."
His eyed narrowed and he found himself wondering why Garibaldi would want to be tagged then he shrugged it off.
"When's he getting out of here?" Zack asked.
"Well, I'd hoped today but I don't like the way some of the tests are coming out so I'm going to keep him here another day."
Zack nodded then looked back at the two beings with their heads together. "See you later, doc."
"All right." G'Kar murmured. "I've spoken with the Abbai Ambassador and she's agreed to help. She thinks very highly of you. I will speak to the Brakiri Ambassador next. Hopefully he will also help. Shall I approach the Drazi and the Gaim?"
Michael shook his head. Not yet. He mouthed and G'Kar nodded. "All right." Before he could say more, Michael touched his arm lightly and G'Kar looked up to see Doctor Franklin walking toward them. "Doctor." G'Kar closed the texttyper and offered it to Michael. "I must be going. Will Michael be released today?"
"No, I don't think so." He looked at Michael. "It looks like you have an infection. I want you to stay another twenty-four hours."
"Mr. Allan was a little premature then." G'Kar said dryly. "I'll come by later."
Michael nodded, watching as G'Kar walked from the Medlab before looking back at Stephen.
"The infection's mild but your immune system seems to be out of whack and you're about twenty pounds underweight." He looked the other man over critically and shook his head. "If the infection clears up by morning then you can go. I'll have some medicines ready. Just make sure you take them and you eat better. For now, just rest."
Michael nodded again, reaching for G'Kar's book.
"I'm not sure reading Narn qualifies as resting." Stephen commented as he walked away.
Michael smiled, opening the book to where he had left off. It wasn't easy to read but it was very enlightening and it helped him understand why G'Kar was visiting him, accepting him despite what had happened.
"I do believe that is check and mate." Brother Theo said smugly and the man on the screen gaped in surprise.
"Again." The elegant silver-haired man sighed. He fingered the psi symbol on his lapel and shook his head. "You are very good."
Brother Theo smiled politely. "Another game?" He deftly reset the pieces on his chessboard. Like Jacob Markham, he liked to use an actual board to see the moves rather then use a computer program.
"Unfortunately no. I have a meeting in ten minutes." Markham paused, steepling his fingers.
"Have you thought of my invitation to come out to Babylon 5?"
"Several times but ... so much work. I will speak to you again in two days. Good-bye." Markham signed off and Brother Theo let his shoulders relax. Switching off the Babcom, he turned to the figure that had been standing quietly in the doorway for the past five minutes. "He's not a bad player but he is an impatient one. I have to throw every few games to keep him happy."
G'Kar stepped into the office and over to the guest chair, settling into it. "So that is the director of PsiCorp. He seems a pleasant person."
"He may very well be. I've been playing against him for years, always through the communication system. I believe I've almost have him convinced to come here. Just need to time it right. How's Michael doing?"
"Doctor Franklin wishes to keep him one more day."
"Hmmm. The rest will do him good. And Frankie has an appointment tomorrow."
"So we had better finish that wheelchair!" G'Kar said cheerfully as he rose and Brother Theo winced then quickly smiled. At least, he reflected, he was helping.
The next day
Michael flinched as Stephen prodded him lightly in the ribs.
"Still tender?" The doctor asked and he gave him a nasty look before nodding. "Well, the infection's cleared up." Stephen looked at the scanner's readings. "And the ribs are healing. The cast should be able to come off in a few days." He looked at Michael critically. "How do you feel?"
He hesitated then shrugged. All right.
Stephen looked at him for a moment then reached for a couple of vials, setting them on the table next to him. "Antibiotics and painkillers. Take the antibiotics for three more days and the painkillers as you need them. If you need more, let me know."
Thanks. Michael reached for his shirt and eased it carefully over the cast and then the rest of the way on. As he pulled it down, he looked up and froze, his face working.
Stephen quickly followed his eyes to see John and Delenn standing in the outer room. He stifled a curse and turned back to Michael, who was looking down, face taunt as he slipped the meds into his breast pocket. The doctor bit back the harsh words he wanted to say and signed the release form. "Sign." He said curtly and Garibaldi took the stylus, signing his own name. "Take the medicine and eat better. I'd prefer you didn't end up back here."
A muscle twitched in Michael's cheek and he nodded, still not looking up. He looked pale, the scars standing out starkly as he pressed his hand to his right side. After a moment he slid from the table and gathered his stuff together.
John Sheridan studied Michael Garibaldi with narrowed eyes, his jaw tense, not surprised that the other man was avoiding his eyes. He found himself studying the ugly scar visible on the man's face, standing out starkly against the pallor of his skin. It looked to have been drawn there with brutal intent, meant to hurt and to maim before the knife was plunged with savage intent into his throat, where an even uglier scar could be seen.
He started when Delenn put her hand gently on his arm. "We could ..."
John was already shaking his head. "I'm not about to spend my life avoiding him. Due to happen sometime. Might as well be now."
Delenn smiled slightly then lost the smile as she looked back into the other room. Garibaldi was gathering up a duster, a book bag, and other items in preparation to leaving the Medlab. She was trying to think of an excuse to get her husband to go into another room when she became aware of a thrumming sound behind her and a sudden tug on her skirts.
"Oh!" She jumped and looked down, laughing as she pulled her skirts back. At her feet was a small motorized cart, the little boy in it grinning up at her.
"Sorry." The boy said. "I don't quite have the steering down yet."
"Frankie, you must slow down." G'Kar said as he hurried into the Medlab, Ta'Lon on his heels. "Thank G'Quan we locked those other two speeds. Mr. President. Ambassador."
"What an interesting vehicle." Delenn commented.
"Yeah. My wheelchair kept breaking so G'Kar and Ta'Lon built this." He began to slowly back the cart up.
"Frankie!" G'Kar looked alarmed as he stepped out of the way. "You are supposed to say Bo and Mack built it."
"They said to say you and Ta'Lon built it and they offered me three oranges and a burrito!" The boy declared.
"Heh!" G'Kar said to no one in particular. "I've been outbid by a burrito." He paused. "What is a burrito anyway?"
"A mixture of vegetables and meat in a flat bread wrap." John explained with a smile.
"Ahhh. Actually that sounds quite tasty."
"Hey, Mike!" The cart zipped forward and John turned to see the boy stop neatly in front of Garibaldi, now standing in the doorway. "Ain't it cool?"
Garibaldi raised an eyebrow, shooting G'Kar a look before setting what he was carrying on a nearby counter and carefully lowering himself to one knee to examine the cart more closely.
"It's totally self-contained. Very easy to maintain and to repair. The power source will last for years. Don't ask me where it came from. I suspect it had a little help." G'Kar mimed a sideways kick with his foot. "Falling off a shuttle. There are actually four speeds but the faster two are currently locked."
"Yeah! That ain't fair!" Frankie complained and Garibaldi rapped his knuckles on the cart, looking at the boy sternly. "Isn't fair!" He corrected and the man nodded, reaching out to rumple the boy's hair.
Garibaldi looked up at G'Kar, mouthing. Whose idea?
"We were in the Chapel at the time. We're marking it down to divine inspiration."
Garibaldi smiled. So it's God's fault.
G'Kar humphed. "That is our story and we are sticking to it. Frankie, see if you can back into the exam room." He gestured toward the room where Dr. Hobbs was watching in bemusement. "Ta'Lon will help you up on the table."
"Okay!" Frankie carefully backed up, not bothering with the mirrors.
"He is actually very good controlling the cart." G'Kar commented. "We have made the controls as easy to handle as possible." He strolled forward and offered Garibaldi a hand. The man obviously welcomed the help as he straightened, pressing his hand briefly against his right side.
"Ribs still giving you a problem?"
The man nodded as he searched the duster briefly, finally pulling out a texttyper. G'Kar read as he typed.
"His mother isn't feeling well. She believes she has something called the flu. I volunteered to take Frankie for the day and for tonight. One of the monks will be coming up to help out before bedtime."
"Where is she?" Stephan asked sharply.
"Resting in her quarters."
"Well, if she does have the flu then Frankie should stay away. I'll go down and check her out." Stephan started to turn, pausing as G'Kar spoke up hastily.
"Doctor, may I recommend that Ta'Lon escort you." He added before Stephan could protest. "Especially if you are planning on taking medicine. Plus he knows the way."
Stephan hesitated then sighed. "All right. I'll be ready in a few minutes." He stepped back into the other room.
"By the time they get back, Frankie should be done with his appointment. Michael, would you mind ..." He read the message Garibaldi had already typed. "Thank you. I have a meeting in ten minutes and I must be off to it."
To the Sheridans' surprise, the Narn took the duster Garibaldi had set on the nearby counter and helped the man into it, help he obviously needed because of the cast and the stiffness with which he moved. For a moment it looked like he meant to slap the man's back but remembered in time and gripped his left shoulder instead. "Margaret says not to help him with his homework. Apparently every time you do, his grades drop." He said it loud enough for the boy to hear and Frankie burst out in giggles.
Hahaha. Garibaldi mouthed back, typing something into the texttyper and showing it to G'Kar. The Narn read it then glared at him.
"Hehehe." He said back before pulling a hand-held game from a pocket. "Margaret sent this along to keep him occupied." He set it on the counter. "Or maybe to keep you occupied. She was mumbling by that time. Now if you'll excuse us." He bowed politely to the Sheridans and stalked over to speak quickly to Ta'Lon before leaving the Medlab.
Garibaldi shook his head, dropping the texttyper back into the duster pocket before reaching for the bag, pulling the strap over his head and settling it comfortably against his side. Picking up the game, he started toward the room Frankie was in, pausing abruptly when Delenn moved into his path.
She expected him to avoid her eyes and was surprised when he meet them without flinching. For a moment she was angry at the lack of guilt or shame in his eyes then her anger wavered as she realized what else she didn't see in his eyes. The angry suspicion and distrust that had been all she'd seen for that fateful year were gone. His eyes were clear and open to her and what she read in them confused her.
"Hey, Mike!" Garibaldi broke eye contact and looked inquiringly toward the boy. After a moment, he raised his eyebrows, looking back at her and jerking his head toward Frankie. Puzzled, she looked toward the exam room to see Frankie waving for her to come over. After a moment, she turned and walked over.
The three men watched as she leaned over at Frankie's gesture, smiling at something he whispered into her ear.
"Thank you. My husband thinks so too." Still smiling, she walked back. Seeing her husband's inquiring look, she explained. "He said I am very pretty."
John's eyes met Garibaldi's briefly in mutual amusement then memory came back to him and he looked away. Garibaldi's smile faded and he glanced away as well, back toward the boy. After a moment, he looked back, bowing slightly to Delenn before turning and walking into the exam room. The doctor there looked at him with no particular friendliness but with no obvious hostility either.
The Sheridans stared at Garibaldi and the boy for a long moment before walking into the room where Stephen was
"Don't ask." Stephan said before John could even open his mouth. "I don't know what's going on. All I know is that over the past four days, he's had an interesting array of visitors. Brother Theo and a number of his monks …" He caught their surprised looks. "He's been living with them in the Monastery. Fixing things and helping out in return for room and board. G'Kar's been here two, three times a day." He glanced at Garibaldi. "That bag he's carrying is G'Kar's; he carries the original of his book in it. He lent it to Garibaldi to read."
"Why?" Delenn asked.
Stephan shook his head. "G'Kar and Ta'Lon are the ones who rescued him from that beating. Maybe he feels responsible for him now."
"So he's doing something useful?" John asked, nodding out at where Garibaldi was helping Frankie slip his shirt off and steadying him so the doctor could examine him.
"Yeah, I guess he is. Brother Theo says he helps out a great deal down there."
"He looks like hell." John said quietly, uncertain if he should be happy or sad about that.
"Yeah, he does. Even so, he's surprisingly healthy. Underweight by way too much but all whipcord muscle. Of course there's the scars and the damaged larynx and the occasional nightmares but other then that ..."
"So he can't speak at all?"
"Nope. Not a sound. The damage to his throat's too extensive. I'm amazed it didn't kill him."
John tore his thoughts from his former friend and back to the present. "Still available for lunch?"
"Sure. I'll be there." He nodded at his bag. "After I visit Margaret.
"See you then." Slipping his arm around his wife, John walked from the Medlab. Garibaldi didn't look up as they left, not even when Frankie waved enthusiastically.
Almost two hours later the couple strolled toward the Fresh Aire restaurant, toward the table where Stephen was already sitting. He nodded a welcome and returned to watching something out in the marketplace. Curious, Delenn turned to look, stiffening at the sight of Garibaldi standing near a hot food stand. He was eating something as he watched Frankie zip around an open area of the market. She was surprised to see him out so openly ... despite the hood of the duster, he was still easily recognizable ... and in fact could see a few people eying him. A couple actually started to move toward him but the little man working the food stand heft a pan with obvious purpose and they backed off hastily.
John followed her eyes, lips thinning at the sight of his former friend then he saw the food seller and smiled. "Julio."
"What?" Delenn said in confusion.
"Julio." It was Stephen who explained. "Makes burritos. Became an instant legend a few years back when a couple hoodlums tried to rob him. He threw a pan full of hot oil in one's face and stabbed the other in the leg. Clear case of self-defense. Well."
Ta'Lon had appeared and was standing next to Garibaldi, chatting with Julio. It was obvious to even the dumbest of would-be tormentors that he was protecting the man.
"What the hell is going on?" John muttered.
"I don't know." Delenn said curtly. "But I mean to find out." She rose and stepped from the restaurant. John and Stephen looked at each other then watched as she walked toward a nearby fruit stand. It took them a moment to realize G'Kar was there, looking through the fruit.
Delenn stopped near him. "G'Kar."
"Ahhhh! Delenn. Do you have any idea what to do with this?" He held up a piece of fruit. "He calls it a pomegranate but he doesn't seem to know how you eat it." He glanced at the proprietor, who was an Abbai. "He does say it is an Earth fruit."
"No, I don't. G'Kar, I want some answers."
"Answers are not always available." He put the pomegranate in the bag he held and reached for a different fruit. "And when you do get them you often find you did not really want them at all."
"G'Kar!" She paused, forcing calm onto herself. "Please. Come, sit, talk with us."
The Narn paused, looking at her. "There is little I can tell you but if it will make you feel better." He paid for the fruit and followed her back, sitting in a chair Stephen had pulled over when they had seen him returning with Delenn. The woman sat across from him, between her husband and the doctor.
G'Kar set the bag on the table and pulled out the pomegranate again. "How do you eat this?" He said to no one in particular.
"Cut it open. Eat the insides." Stephen explained.
"Why are you buying fruit anyway?" John asked.
"Frankie." He glanced at Stephen. "The good doctor recommended more fruit in his diet. Normally it is oranges but he seems to be acquiring a faint orange tinge so I thought I would find some other Earth fruit for him." He set the pomegranate on the table and pulled out another piece of fruit, examining it.
"G'Kar." Delenn said sharply. "What is Ta'Lon doing?"
G'Kar looked toward the other Narn. "Standing."
Delenn's lips thinned dangerously. "Why there?"
"Because if he does not stand there, someone is going to harass Michael and Michael is not yet ready to defend himself. Though Julio is very good at scaring people off." He chuckled. "And this is?"
"Mango. Eat it the same way." John this time.
"G'Kar, you are changing the subject."
"No. I am avoiding it. There is a difference."
"G'Kar." Delenn said quietly but firmly and G'Kar, paused, studying her for a long moment before setting the mango down. Moving the bag to one side, he crossed his arms on the table, looking at her.
Delenn and crossed her arms in turn, not looking away from the other Ambassador. John and Stephen looked at each other in dismay, the terms 'irresistible force' and 'immovable object' popping into their heads simultaneously. Slowly they both eased back, out of the line of fire.
"What is going on?" She demanded.
"Innumerable things. You will have to specify."
"Why are you dealing with Garibaldi?"
"Dealing with. You make it sound like business, which it is not." Before she could say anything, he continued. "He is my friend, Delenn. I was not a very good friend over a year ago; I choose to be a better one now."
"What he did ..."
"I know what he did and I am not ignoring it. I simply choose to accept him and move on."
He looked at her somberly. "Because once he chose to accept me and move on."
"Someone once told me that a friend is someone who walks toward you while all others walk away. Delenn, Michael is still my friend and I choose not to leave him to face the darkness alone. I realize that may make you unhappy; may make many people unhappy but, despite what he did, I simply can not do that."
Delenn stared at him, thinking back at what she had seen in Garibaldi's eyes. The waiter approaching the table sized up the situation and, with that ages-old instinct of servers everywhere, eased back. Both John and Stephen had to resist the impulse to follow him.
"G'Kar, do you know why he did what he did?" Delenn finally asked, unable to say the words that defined Garibaldi's betrayal.
He picked up the pomegranate, looking at it thoughtfully. "Yes. Yes, I do." He said finally, looking back up at her. "Do not ask me though, I can not tell you. I promised."
"Is it a good reason?"
"No reason is a good reason, Delenn." He said curtly. "It is an explanation, that is all. But I can assure you he means no harm to any of you or to this station. And that, too, he very deeply regrets what happened."
After a moment, she turned to look across the market to see Garibaldi now sitting at a bench, the boy in front of him. He was adjusting something on the cart with Ta'Lon's help, listening with a slight smile as the boy chattered at them both, nodding occasionally. When she turned back to G'Kar, the Narn had returned the fruit to the bag and rose, holding it in one arm. He stepped around the table to tower over her, speaking quietly.
"All I can say to you is what Brother Theo said to me, based on his years of experience with people. That man over there." He nodded toward Garibaldi, now getting to his feet. "That is the man we all knew before he vanished for two weeks. He is not the angry, alienated man who was returned to us. And now if you will excuse me. Frankie's mother suggested a nap around this time and Michael will undoubtedly feel safer back Downbelow. Have a good day." And he was gone, leaving the threesome gaping after him.
Delenn felt a chill descend upon her and rubbed at her arms in an attempt to warm them. "Returned to us. Not rescued. Not retrieved. Not found. Returned."
John Sheridan stared at the tabletop, his lips compressed. "We always thought there was something wrong with the way he disappeared and then found. We never took the time to look closer."
"We never had the time." Stephen corrected then stopped, wondering how good of an excuse that really was. Despite the joy they had felt when Michael was found, they had viewed him with suspicion because of the circumstances, something that contrasted sharply with their ready acceptance of Sheridan's return from the dead. He looked toward where G'Kar was now talking with Garibaldi. "Physically there was no evidence of the Shadows doing anything to him."
"There was no evidence then. What about now?" Delenn asked quietly. "What if something was done to him ... something more was done to him ... after your examinations were finished?"
Stephen frowned, looking from Delenn to John and then back again. "I suppose that could be possible. Do you want me to check? John?"
John looked up to meet his eyes. "I should hate him for what he did. Not so much for what he did to me but to my father."
"But?" Delenn asked quietly when he fell silent.
John shook his head. "I remember him the way he was. The meals he'd cook for us. The stupid jokes and half-assed remarks which were usually right on the money. The way he dealt with people, no matter who or what they were. Fighting for us. Preparing the White Star for my trip to Z'ha'dum without any questions." His throat tightened. "He was so damn proud of that Army of Light uniform. He told me once that it was the first thing he'd ever really earned on his own merit. When he returned, it was like he couldn't stand the sight of it. Or of me. I just thought he was shell-shocked. That he'd get over it."
"We all did." Stephen said.
"But he didn't. It was like - everything just got worse." He paused, looking around for Garibaldi but he, the boy, and the two Narns were gone. "There's something I've never mentioned before. I thought maybe I dreamed it up but now ... When the Rangers rescued me, as Marcus was helping me out of the cell, he said something to me. Later I just thought I'd misheard or it was just wishful thinking on my part but now I wonder." He paused, thinking of the Ranger and knowing that he'd never be able to ask him. Marcus had been killed during that rescue. "He said 'Michael sent us. He told me where you could be and how to get you out.'."
Delenn and Stephen looked at each other then back at him. He looked from one to the other, finally settling on Stephen. "Do the tests. See what you can find out. I don't know if he'll cooperate though."
Stephen snorted. "If he doesn't, I'll sic G'Kar on him. Somehow I think that'll work."
Michael came out of the latest nightmare with a burning desire for a drink.
He fought the desire down, refusing to give into it, knowing that even the slightest sip of alcohol would be the end of him. He'd never stop and there was no way in hell he'd give that bastard the satisfaction of destroying him completely. His throat felt raw from trying to scream and he reflected that it was a good thing he was mute or he'd be waking everyone within hearing on a nightly basis. Throwing back the blanket, he reached for a shirt and pulled it on, getting up and opening the door to step out.
He wasn't surprised to see the monks already gathered for midnight offices, each kneeling in their place. Moving quietly, he knelt to one side of Brother Andrew. While he didn't pray, he did find the time useful for meditation, calming his mind and heart, the prayer soothing to his ears. He breathing slowed, returning to normal. By the time the prayer had ended, he was calm, rising with them and waiting for them to return to their beds before walking into the kitchen area, his bare feet slapping on the floor. He was reaching for the whetstone when Brother Theo spoke from the doorway.
"The nightmares are back?"
He turned to look at the older man.
"Or did they never leave?" Brother Theo looked concerned.
Michael pulled himself up to sit on the counter. Never really left he admitted as he proceeded to sharpen a dull knife. He paused, watching as Brother Theo set a kettle on a burner, waiting until the man was facing him again. Sometimes I think Bester put them there deliberately.
Brother Theo thought over what he'd heard of the man. "I suppose that's possible." He reached for a couple mugs and began to prepare tea. "Do you know which memories are real and which are not?"
Michael looked down, the dream memories flooding him. He shuddered, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand, his stomach churning at one particular nightmare. He finally shook his head.
"When this is over, there is a psychologist I want you to speak to. I think you need to." The monk offered him a steaming mug of tea. "Here. This will help you sleep."
Thanks. Michael took the mug.
Three days later, on Mars
Bester sat at the desk in the hotel room, reading the report that Captain Lochley had written for EarthForce. Every now and then, he glanced at the man sitting on a nearby chair, his eyes open but unseeing, prying information from his mind as needed. When he finished, he erased the portions of the report EarthForce didn't need to know about and sat back, drumming his fingers on the desk.
The switch with Security on Babylon 5 had caught him off-guard, happening so quickly he hadn't been able to block it. And he was finding his attempts to thwart the sale of the station to the Alliance ... well, thwarted at every turn. Ever since Clark's fall, the PsiCorps power had waned. His power had waned. Though he had poked and prodded the board as much as he dared, they had been unable or unwilling to help. In fact, he had been told in no uncertain terms that Babylon 5 was of no interest to them. When he reminded them of the rogue telepaths escaping through the station, he was told to let them go. Their interest now was in changing the image of PsiCorp, to make it more acceptable to the grunting animals they referred to as mundanes and to tend to telepaths happy with their lives in PsiCorp.
But he had no intention of letting any telepaths go, anymore then he had of letting the station become truly independent. If it did then telepaths would swarm there and they could lose the most powerful of them. Telepaths that he needed for when he finally lead them against the mundanes and they took their place as the rightful rulers of humanity. In order to accomplish that, PsiCops once again needed free rein to hunt down rogues, even on Babylon 5.
But there was no harm in having some fun along the way and messing with Garibaldi was fun. He had long since despised the man, not only because of his refusal to acknowledge the obvious superiority of the telepaths but also because of something else the man had possessed, something he, Bester, didn't have and never would. But not any longer and Bester smiled. Under his subtle influence, Garibaldi himself had destroyed all of his hard-won friendships, turning himself into a hated pariah with no friends and no hope for help from anyone.
After he had released the man from his mental bondage, he had expected him to end up dead, either at the hands of vengeful members of the Mars Resistance or at his own hand. Suicide by drinking. He'd actually found himself daydreaming over the thought of Garibaldi drinking himself to death. But that hadn't happened. Somehow Garibaldi had survived, making his way to Babylon 5 and, for whatever reason, his former friends had let him not only live but to make his home there.
Lochley's report stated that the former security chief was worse for wear, scarred and unable to speak. The thought of the wisecracking Garibaldi unable to speak actually made him laugh out loud. Apparently he was the victim of repeated beatings as well, taking the abuse without defending himself, not fighting back. So maybe he was suicidal. Too cowardly to kill himself, he was probably waiting for someone else to do it for him.
But there was one troubling thing and that was the note that the Narn ambassador, G'Kar, was now apparently protecting the man. Perhaps he thought to use Garibaldi for his own purposes, though what purpose that could be Bester couldn't guess. He was surprised to feel a tinge of jealousy. Garibaldi was, after all, his to play with. Just because he wasn't at the moment didn't mean he was about to let anyone else have him.
The good thing was that the man's former friends wanted nothing to do with him. He would get no help from them. And perhaps ... Bester smiled suddenly.
He never considered Garibaldi to be completely stable, even before his tampering. His bouts of binge drinking, low self-esteem, and tendency toward self-destructive behavior were well-known. It wouldn't be surprising if such a man would plot revenge against his former friends. In fact, Lochley had expressed that very concern. With the right amount of tweaking, he could easily push Garibaldi into a violent confrontation with Sheridan, one that would end up with Sheridan and his wife dead. No one would be surprised that Garibaldi had finally lost it. Of course, Garibaldi would end up dead as well but that would be no great loss. He had long outlived his usefulness.
Absently he drew his gloved fingers along the desk, thinking it through then turned to look at Johnson, erasing bits of memory he no longer needed and implanting instructions he wouldn't even be aware of following. Once that was done, he left the room, leaving Johnson to return to himself. As he exited the hotel, he took no notice of the young student who watched him leave before making his way to a local commstation to send a message to his employer.