a Sic Transit Vir gapfiller
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or background. But they are my words.
They say, when he was attacked, he was with a woman…those words kept echoing in his brain. Said in her melodious voice, low with desire and suggestion, the words kept repeating. With a woman, he was with a woman…Lord, he wished he was with a woman right now--with one specific woman to be precise. And that one other woman of his acquaintance was thrice damned to hell.
His arm throbbed under his jacket. The bandage made the sleeve too tight, and it was cutting off circulation to his hand. He took the jacket off, once again admiring the design and workmanship. Made him look like warrior caste, which was probably the point. Looking at the cloth hanging loosely from his hand, he thought maybe he should work out a code with Ivanova. At the academy he'd hung his jacket on the doorknob of his room to let him room-mate know when he didn't want any interruptions. Of course, the doors on Babylon 5 didn't have doorknobs, now that he thought about it. He'd have to come up with something else. He walked down the hallway towards his quarters, lost in thought, talking to himself. People walking past could hear him muttering random words like 'barbed wire' and 'land mines' and 'nukes?'. He didn't even notice the footsteps coming up behind him, until a hand took hold of his arm…
"Captain, I must speak with you." When he made no response, the voice continued, "John?"
"Huh?" he said, breaking out of a reverie that involved a remote and inaccessible desert island, a hut with an extra-wide hammock, and…"Oh, Delenn. I'm sorry, I was miles away. Did you want something?"
She wondered to herself if he had any idea how appealing he looked, with that faraway look in his eyes, his soft black shirt outlining his muscular chest, and his jacket swinging from his hand. She mentally shook herself, and said, "I wanted to see you, later tonight. It's a delicate diplomatic matter, and I am tied up in meetings all day. Perhaps I could come by your quarters…?" Thank Valen he could not see what was flashing through her mind, though the spark of interest in his eyes, accompanied by a wide, lazy smile, made it seem as if he could. As warmth spread through her body, and heat rose in her face, she awaited his reply.
"Oh, I think that could be arranged."
His voice was like tula syrup, she thought, thick and sweet. Her mouth was suddenly dry, and she unconsciously licked her lips.
At that sight, his collar suddenly became very tight. He tried to loosen it unobtrusively and went on, trying for nonchalance, "How's eight o'clock? I'll be off by then. Will you have time to eat, or shall I have something delivered?"
"Something to eat would be nice. I do not think I will have time otherwise."
"Fine, I'll see you then."
This was ridiculous. She couldn't seem to make herself move away from him. She finally turned away, then he cleared his throat, and she whirled back towards him. "Yes?"
"Um, nothing. I'll be going now. Got to see Garibaldi about something. Eight o'clock, then." He had to make himself walk away, fighting the impulse to turn around and walk backwards so he could watch her graceful swaying…Got to see Garibaldi, yeah, that's the ticket. He'll have something that'll keep Susan at bay tonight.
Michael Garibaldi loved assignments like this. He had just the thing to help out his lovestruck commanding officer. It had been great fun watching Sheridan blunder around trying to explain what he wanted, which seemed to be a guarantee of an uninterrupted evening with the Minbari ambassador. Michael was in the Captain's quarters, the main com screen disassembled on the floor, as he re-programmed it from inside. No one but Susan could get a message through until he re-enabled it. It would look like the Captain's system was on the blink, not deliberately turned off, all completely innocent. But when Susan linked in, she would get a very different picture than the inside of Sheridan's living room. He chuckled. He'd bet that she'd shut it off pretty quickly and get the message not to try again anytime soon. She'd know it was him, and probably hunt him down and kill him, but it would be worth it. Of course, it would be even better if he could see some of the action…he considered his options, and made a few more adjustments to the monitor screen.
It was almost eight o'clock. He'd ordered in an assortment of cold salads and fruit. That way the only thing he had to do was boil water for tea. Neat, easy, and no possibility of setting anything on fire--that's the way he liked romantic meals. Some small part of his mind gibbered in panic at the word 'romantic'. When the door chimed, he almost jumped out of his skin. Making himself calm down before he answered, he opened the door and then stood there staring at her. He couldn't exactly say why; she was wearing the same clothes she'd been wearing earlier in the day, and it was a normal outfit for her, but somehow everything looked different tonight. He gestured her inside, and let the door shut behind her.
She couldn't understand why she was so nervous. She had papers to go over, that was all. And working over dinner was not unheard of in her culture. Her voice seemed to be coming from far away, admiring the food spread out on the kitchen island, the glossy black china, the flowers…flowers? She went over to look. They were large, white, with a blush of pink at the throat, and a heavenly scent. She looked at him questioningly. "These are lovely. What are they called?"
"Stargazers," he replied, "A kind of lily, I think. I bought them today, I don't know why." He walked over to where she was standing. She turned to face him, and he took her hands in his own, and held them against his chest. He continued, finding it a little hard to breathe, "They reminded me of you, actually." She was gazing up at him, her eyes shining, as he tried to think of something else to say. He heard Anna's voice, saying Simple honesty, John. That's your greatest gift. "They are almost as beautiful as you are," he finally said, hoping the sincerity of the words made up for the lack of poetry in them.
Her mind was reeling both from the heady scent of the flowers, and the more subtle male human scent arising from the warm body pressed close to hers. She had to resist the impulse to bury her face in his chest and breathe him in. They were back where they had been before; back at the same precipice. Hesitantly, hoping the gesture was an encouraging one in his culture too, she took one hand and laid it against his cheek. She drew her hand down his jaw to his strong, thick neck, where she could feel his pulse under her fingers. It quickened even as she did so, responding to her feather-light touch.
They jumped apart at the sound of the comm system blinking on. Looking over towards the screen, the saw a brief glimpse of Ivanova's face, but the picture quickly went black, and then was replaced by something else. Delenn watched in fascination as a jerky, two dimensional figure came into view. It reminded her of something she had seen before, but she couldn't place the reference. It was a short, male figure, with a bulging forehead, wearing a tall floppy hat with a large brim. He was carrying something that looked like a weapon, only very long, with two openings at the end. The figure paused in the center of the screen, then turned to face outwards, put a finger to its lips, and went, "Shhh…" She glanced at John but he appeared to be as mystified as she was. Turning back to the screen, she saw the figure seemingly confide, "Be wery, wery, quiet. I'm hunting Minbawi." Then it laughed, and the screen went black.
Delenn didn't know what to think. As she thought about what message could have been meant by the strange images, she put together the thought of a weapon, hunting, and Minbari, and began to feel uneasy. She backed away from John, looking to him for an explanation.
Stunned for a moment, John did not even notice Delenn's subtle movements away from him. "What the hell was that?" he said loudly. Then he swore, "Garibaldi! Dammit, I'll kill him!"
Delenn was a little frightened at John's violent reaction, but as she processed what she had seen and put it together with her knowledge of Mr. Garibaldi's penchant for jokes and fondness for this type of vid, she began to realize what had happened. Cartoons, she thought, that's what he called them.
Still loudly declaring his intent to attack his Security Chief in a variety of ways at the very first opportunity, John suddenly thought, Oh hell, and turned to his guest. She had backed away from him, and was looking quite concerned, even a little fearful. He began to apologize and explain, as best he could, what had happened. Suddenly he was afraid that this was not only a personal disaster, but a potential political one as well. Their cultures had been at war not too long ago, and feelings were still a little raw for jokes about weapons and hunting.
John's stumbling, earnest efforts to put her at ease were working, as Delenn began to be amused by the situation. She thought perhaps the evening could still be salvaged if she could turn John's thoughts away from his embarrassment and rage, and back to where they had previously been heading. She moved closer to him, and put her finger on his lips as he continued to apologize, and said, "Shhh…"
He stopped talking immediately, uncertain where this was going. She didn't seem angry, or afraid any longer. In fact, as she snaked her arms around his neck, pulling him close, she didn't seem upset at all.
"Were you?" she asked breathily.
"Was I what?" he asked, trying to keep his mind on what she was saying, and not on what she was doing to him. She had moved from running her fingers through the soft short hair on his head, to stroking his broad shoulders, and then moving her hands to his chest. Her touch was gentle and exploratory, but it felt as if she was trailing flame from her fingertips.
"Were you hunting…Minbari?" she practically cooed.
His mind shut down. There was no good answer to that that he could see. Again, Anna came to his rescue. Women like to play as much as men do, John. The thrill of the chase is not just a guy thing. Hoping Anna had been right, he smiled down at Delenn, and said, "Maybe." He put his arms around her, and her body pressed up tightly against him in response. "Maybe…one Minbari, in particular."
"And what did you plan to do with this one, once you had captured her?" Her voice was low and seductive, and unless he had gone completely mad, suggestive as hell. She had tilted her head slightly, as she often did when considering a problem or asking a question. It was an extremely convenient position for what he meant to do next.
"Finish what we started…", he said, and lowered his head to hers.This time there was no interruption as their lips met. He had meant their first kiss to be gentle and tender, but the whipsawing of emotion they had been through the last few days had heightened the tension between them to fever point. Passion overwhelmed them both, and for once, they let their hearts overrule their heads.
Susan Ivanova stormed through the station corridors towards Security's main offices. Everyone who saw her, human or alien, got out of her way, and thanked whatever gods they prayed to that they were not the focus of her ire. She came into the office, where Garibaldi was sitting alone, in front of a small viewscreen, laughing. He stopped when he saw her face, and tried in vain to shield her view of the screen. "Garibaldi, what do you think you're doing…" she began, then stopped as she caught sight of what he was watching. "You're eavesdropping on them!"
"You can't call it eavesdropping, Susan. There's no sound! Without sound, how can you say I'm eavesdropping?"
Susan slammed her hands down on the control panel in front of the screens. "Turn it off. Right now. Or you will not only be missing hair, but your scalp as well."
Garibaldi held both hands up in front of him. "All right, all right." As he turned to the controls, he said, "They've moved away from the camera anyway. Hmm…wonder if they've made it to the bedroom yet?"
"Garibaldi…" said Susan, threat hanging heavy in her voice.
"There, it's off. Tomorrow I'll put it all back the way it was," he said, then added with mock concern in his voice, "unless you think I should do it now?"
Susan just glared at him, and held her hand out for the data crystal with the recording. "I don't ever want to catch you doing something like this again. And don't even think about mentioning this incident to the Captain, or to Delenn, or to anyone on this station, or to anyone in known space! I will find out, and you will be sorry. Very sorry. Life without lungs is extremely difficult."
"Ok, ok, it was just a joke. If you hadn't interrupted them, I wouldn't have been asked for my technical assistance. In a way, this is your fault!"
Susan raised one expressive eyebrow, and left abruptly, in as bad a mood as when she'd arrived. Garibaldi waited until she was out of sight, then moved his arm away from the blinking red light on the console. He stopped the recording, and popped out the back-up crystal, the one with the sound recording as well as visual. "It'll make a nice wedding gift." He paused and considered a moment, "If I can resist pulling it out for the bachelor party." He pocketed the crystal, and left the office whistling, hands jammed deep in his pockets.