Disclaimer: I don't own Bablyon 5 or the universe in which it exists, including the Rangers amongst others… I believe they belong to the Great Maker (aka JMS)…
Author's Note: This is more sap/fluff than anything else, but contains very minor plot revelations. Actual plot may make an appearance soon (depending upon my motivation)…
Firell had stopped the bleeding easily enough, and the color had begun to return to Sarah's cheeks. But the most encouraging sign of her recovery was the smile that lit her face as she held her baby girl close. David hadn't left their side, as Firell cleaned them up and released them to his quarters. He had insisted she take his bed in order to fulfill the prescription of bed rest.
What once had been Sarah's quarters had been given to their new weapon's specialist. She couldn't have possibly expected them to hold the coveted space on such a small ship, or not request a replacement after she had upped and disappeared all those months ago…
But she didn't seem to be complaining about the arrangement. Rather in a very uncharacteristic manner, she looked radiantly happy, truly and sincerely content. Sitting on the edge of the bed, David simply smiled at the novelty of this new version of one of his closest friends.
When she looked up from her little bundle of joy (something she did rarely in the few hours since the babe was placed in her arms), Sarah seemed to catch the amusement in David's face. Her face became the more common, harsh and accusatory one that he had loved and missed nonetheless.
"What?" she barked, a glare failing to truly diminish the glow of motherhood softening her features.
"Nothing," David automatically defended. "It's just… I've never seen you so happy. Not even when we were together."
"Oh!" She exclaimed, then quickly glanced down to the disturbed infant in her arms before she continued on in a whisper that was somehow no less evocative. "Such an ego on you, David Martell. You just assumed that you were the best thing to ever happen to me?"
He smiled wickedly. "I didn't say that. But there must be some truth in it since you jumped immediately to that conclusion."
She shook her head and released an exasperated sigh. "I can't believe I missed you."
"You missed me?" David sought confirmation, perhaps pushing her too far, but longing for the teasing more than every other part of their interactions save one; one that, given all her cursing and hostilities while giving birth, would never occur again.
She looked away, obviously refusing to give him the pleasure of her response, or even the reaction she could not stop from coloring her face.
Time to change the subject.
"Is she asleep?" David asked, leaning over to see the newborn child's tiny face. She sure looked like she was in the depths of a blissful slumber, but he waited for the mother's confirmation before suggesting that they put her down in the makeshift cradle and give Sarah a chance to rest. The reluctance was evident in the woman's concerned eyes, but David was able to persuade her simply with a meaningful look; However much she wanted to, Sarah could not hold on to her daughter every minute of every day for the rest of her life.
Placing the helpless little girl in the cradle beside his bed with as much tenderness and adoration as if she were his own, David contemplated the fact that she very likely was. When he returned his attention to Sarah, he could tell she knew what thought was preoccupying his mind. She made room for him to sit down beside her and he took the invitation.
Several moments passed in silence, before David realized that he had to be the one to initiate the conversation.
"What happened, Sarah?" he asked softly, knowing how she'd react if even an infinitesimal hint of accusation was perceived there. It was frustrating, but he knew she didn't behave mercurial on purpose. It was simply who she was, and at times beyond her control. Thankfully, she proved stable thus far, albeit unresponsive. He pressed on. "Is she mine? Is that why you left?"
There was a pause. And then he got his answer: A single word that held such solidity such weight. Yet, it was the most airy, wispiest utterance he had ever heard uttered by the fiery female.
Yes, the darling girl he had held in his arms during her first moments of life belonged to him as well. And yes, she had been the reason Sarah Cantrell had run away. He had been the reason for his own heartache.
"Please don't ask me to explain myself," Sarah continued to speak quietly. David knew her coolness was not just because of the sleeping child a few feet away. "You won't be able to understand."
"I have to admit it hurts that you think that, but I'll take your word on it," David conceded. He had just gotten her back. Pushing her away over petty arguments was the last thing he wanted to do. There was something else besides their personal issues that he wanted to ask her about. "Do you know why those things were after you?"
"No," Sarah replied more quickly, appreciating the change in subject matter. "I was going to ask you about them. Do you know who they are? What they wanted with me?"
David knew that he had to tell her, but momentarily he considered sparing her the complication and burden of the truth. She had already been through so much, had so much responsibility thrust upon her. And he did not wish to weigh her down with more.
"We believe that they're minions of the Hand," David confessed.
"Like the ones that destroyed the Valen and the colony on Beta Durani 7?" Sarah asked, apparently shocked. "But why would they come after me? I'm not a threat to their plans of universal domination or whatever other evil schemes they're hatching! I'm not of any consequential importance. I'm not even a Ranger anymore!"
"You're important to me," David admitted quietly. That was why he had been tracking her down since the moment she had vanished, secretly during missions, and openly between assignments.
"What does that have to do with anything?" she criticized, her cheeks blushing at the compliment. The odd thing was that she had only realized the reverse was true after she had run away. While she remained on the Liandra, in David's arms and affection, Sarah possessed no certainty to the nature of her feelings for the man. But when she left…she missed him more than anything.
"Apparently, I've been somewhat of an annoyance to them," David explained. Like Sarah, he couldn't really see how someone as insignificant as himself could possibly be a problem for such a purportedly immense force as the Hand. "They had some of their underlings send me a message. I was to stay away from the outer sectors or they would harm you."
There was a brief pause once more in which David attempted to squelch the distressing thought of Sarah being in danger or pain and Sarah considered why the Hand thought she was so important to David. And why were they such a threat to the Hand to merit such craven, hostile action?
"But they didn't count on your being so difficult to capture, did they?" David said with affection and pride in his manner. She had fended them off until the very last, bought him time to catch up to her, and help her when her resilience had finally failed her.
Sarah smiled weakly at him. And David suffered the shock of his life as he recognized tears welling in the eyes of the toughest individual he had ever encountered. Not even during the apparently excruciating pain of childbirth had she cried. Her temper always saw her through periods of turmoil.
"What's wrong?" he asked, sidling closer to her and wrapping an arm around her shoulder. An overwhelming feeling of contentment engulfed him as she leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder. He was concerned for her distress, but having her close undeniably made him a happier soul.
"I…I just can't help but wonder…What would they have done to her if they had captured me," Sarah voiced the greatest fear she had ever known. David hugged her close, rubbing her arm and kissing her forehead.
"Sarah," David sighed quietly, studying her serenely sleeping face. What happened to her, what had changed her so much? What path had he put her on that day he couldn't control his urges? He could remember it so vividly, cursed himself every day for it since she had left.
It had been a stressful time. The ship was falling apart at the seams, as usual, and they were limping home…barely. Every single soul aboard was pitching in with the repairs. David wasn't all that certain that the sheer will of the crew wasn't the only thing holding her together. He had been deliriously exhausted, frustrated beyond reason…for more things had gone wrong beyond even his capacity for optimism. Like the ship, he had been falling apart at the seams.
And as was her way, Sarah Cantrell had become even sharper with her tongue and less discriminatory with her temper as her own stress levels exceeded her capabilities to cope. David was normally the last one to loose his calm and placidity, excepting Dulann and some of the other Minbari. But at that time, Sarah's biting sarcasm and bitter attitude had ground against his raw nerves. And she snapped back at him one too many times.
David had pulled her into a closet, meaning to privately admonish her, instead of making a scene in front of the crew. However, while standing there, in the pulsating light created by the Liandra's intermittent power supply, facing down a furious woman who was drenched in sweat, every muscle tensed in exhaustive stress, something in him snapped. Perhaps that small, frayed thread that was tying him to sanity finally broke. Or maybe he really just couldn't deal with such stress when it came down to it. But whatever the reason, he gave in to the desire of forcing her to submit.
He didn't know what in his sleep-deprived brain concluded that sex was the best way to dominate her, to relieve his stress, and unburden her from the tension that had visibly hardened every muscle in her body. Roughly, he forced her against the wall, his hand at her throat, his mouth devouring her lips. She shoved him back, and as he staggered a few steps, he realized the incredible mistake he had made. However, before he could begin to feel guilty, he recognized that same ravenous beast reflected in her eyes.
And then she had pounced…
Their anger and frustrations had been melted away by passion, leaving behind only a confusion and awkwardness. Eventually, they had overcome the awkwardness, seeking out one another's beds on numerous occasions. But the confusion had remained, still remained.
What exactly had happened between them? Why had she been afraid to face him?
"Sarah, Sarah, Sarah," David repeated softly, trying to figure out what had gone through her mind when she left, what she was thinking now that she had returned. Things could never be the same again, so what did she want?
"That's my name," she replied, surprising David who had thought her still fast asleep. She couldn't have been too far from it, her eyes still closed, her voice a sluggish whisper. "Don't wear it out. Or I'll make you get me a new one."
"I've always liked 'Mimsy'," David teased. Her eyes shot open with a flash of the temper he so loved.
"Don't you dare call me that…ever," she threatened sans any sort of playful glint in her eye.
"What about the baby?" he continued, unwilling to let her win so easily, without even giving him a smile.
"What about my baby?" she asked back. The significance she placed on her possession of their child hurt him, but still he was unwilling to stop.
"We can call her 'Mimsy,'" he explained. Maybe she just realized that he was joking, or maybe she finally could no longer suppress her amusement so completely, but a small smirk twitched at the corner of her mouth.
"Don't think that I won't kill you," she retorted. "Just because you saved our lives."
A/N: Not sure how much more there will be before I tire of it and wander off… (I believe there is the makings of at least one more chapter around here somewhere...)