Title: While You Were Sleeping
Rating: PG-13 (sexual references -- nothing explicit).
Prompt: #9. Always wondered what this'd be like.
Author's Notes: Written for the un_love_you community on LiveJournal. The full prompt set is on my LJ (the link is in my profile if you're interested). Don't hesitate to drop me a note and tell me what you think!
"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked, a touch of nervousness present in his voice.
Delenn merely smiled gently in response.
Sheridan cast her a long searching look before sighing in defeat and stripping out of housecoat. "I'm not used to having anyone around while I sleep," he heard himself say. The statement wasn't entirely true, he'd had plenty of people around while he slept. But all of those people were men, and fellow soldiers. Not Minbari and highly attractive. It was a large distinction, and a valid one.
He was aware that Delenn came with a whole cornucopia of foreign, and often odd, Minbari traditions, and he had been willing to accept that. It was a part of her culture, and he was honour bound to respect that aspect of her life. Even if a great deal of Minbari ceremonies struck him as exceedingly tedious. But there was something about this particular cultural quirk that he found highly unsettling. Perhaps it was because he couldn't shake the image of himself snoring loudly, lying spread-eagled on the bed with a nice puddle of drool forming on his pillow and Delenn looking on in horrified amusement. He had never had the opportunity to watch himself sleep before, but if what he looked like in the morning was any indication then it probably wasn't pretty. He fully expected Delenn to spend most of the night trying to come up with a polite way of telling him to never see her again.
"Is there something wrong?" she asked, startling him out of his reverie.
"No, no," he replied, trying very hard not to think about what Delenn's reaction would be if a particular natural male tendency presented itself in the middle of the night. He paled slightly.
Delenn was staring at him expectantly, her eyes sparkling with ill-suppressed amusement. "There is no need to be nervous, John."
"I'm not nervous!" he replied, a little to quickly and laughing a little too boisterously. Her lips twitched as she suppressed a smile.
"Right," he said, taking a deep breath. If he could handle fighting Minbari, he most certainly could handle sleeping with one. Well, sleeping in the same room as one. Not, of course, that he'd object to sleeping with one. Well, not any one, but a certain one. A certain one who was spending the night in his quarters watching him sleep.
There were days when he wondered if things could possibly get any stranger. It was on those days that the universe seemed to feel a need to prove the point by introducing something mind-bendingly odd. It was turning out to be one of those days.
He was suddenly struck with a horrifying thought, and his gaze snapped to Delenn with an audible crack from his protesting neck.
Just how human was Delenn? Sure, she seemed human enough, despite the bone. But he knew very little about Minbari sexual practices, and what he did know made him well aware that a union between a human and a Minbari would be uncomfortable at best.
"John?" she questioned, her brow knitted in confusion.
What if Minbari custom required some long drawn-out ceremony? Eating dinner was complicated enough, but he wasn't sure he would be able to keep it up if they had to stop and meditate every step of the way.
"John?" Delenn repeated, anxiously.
"I'm fine," he all but squeaked in reply.
"We do not have to do this if you do not wish to," she said gently.
"No, no," he assured her, climbing into bed. "It's fine. I want to do this." He failed to convince either of them.
"Perhaps it would be best if we did this at another time," she said hurriedly, rising to leave.
"No!" he exclaimed sitting up. "No. Please stay."
She looked hesitantly at him, so he continued, "you asked to do this. It's important to you, and," he said, steeling his courage, "if it's important to you then it's important to me."
Her answering smile nearly made him forget how nervous he was about the whole thing.
She settled into the chair by his bed, and he lay back down, staring blankly at the ceiling, unable to decide whether he actually wanted to fall asleep or not.
After a long moment of silence he gave into the need to do something. "Are you sure I can't get you something?" he asked abruptly, rolling onto his side and propping himself up on one arm.
"No, John," she replied kindly, yet firmly.
"Right," he mumbled, rolling onto his back. He lay there for what felt like forever. His thigh began to itch.
As he weighed the relative merits of scratching his thigh, Delenn spoke, "what do you usually do before you sleep?"
"I don't know," he replied, and Delenn cast him an odd look. "I'm usually up late working," he explained, rolling back onto his side to face her. "So it's usually really late by the time I get in. I just brush my teeth, change and fall into bed." He gave a self-depreciating grin.
"Would you like to try a Minbari mediation exercise?" she asked, a little too innocently. "Perhaps it will help you relax." He couldn't shake the feeling that she was making some sort of joke at his expense.
"Sure," he replied. "Why the hell not."
She smiled softly at him, and he couldn't help smiling back. "Try to relax," she said, soothingly. "Lie back and close your eyes."
He shifted on the bed, trying to find the most comfortable position. There was something about being told to relax that made it completely impossible for him to find a comfortable position. He thigh still itched, and he finally gave in and scratched it.
"Relax, John," Delenn said, sounding amused.
"I'm relaxed," he insisted, shifting once more and then lying still, allowing his eyes to close.
"Allow your mind to relax as well. Focus on your breathing," she said, her voice almost hypnotic in the quiet room.
Obediently he turned his attention to his breathing, focusing on the steady rhythm of in and out. Slowly he felt his body begin to relax, and his tense, over-worked muscles begin to uncurl. He took a deep breath in and let out loudly, feeling refreshed.
"Good," Delenn said softly from somewhere that sounded far above him. "Keep focusing on that rhythm. In, out. In, out. In, out."
"I think it's working," he mumbled.
"Shh!" she replied. "Sleep."
She watched his face with avid fascination, watching the lines of tension ease as sleep claimed him. A gentle stillness filled the room, and she allowed herself to take it in, relaxing her and calming her. For a few minutes he remained still, but it wasn't long before he began to shift in his sleep. Her heart gave an odd flutter as he rolled over towards her, mumbling something unintelligible. She smiled. It was so very like him to be restless, even in sleep. He had such a constant need to be doing something that she was surprised that she'd been able to get him to sleep at all.
She watched his face, drinking in the soft expression. She'd always imagined this day. It was every Minbari girl's dream to find someone whose true personality was appealing to her. Granted, in her childish fantasies it hadn't been a human that she was watching, but she found she much preferred the reality to the dream.
She had once asked her aunt what she had seen in her uncle's face during her vigil. She remembered her aunt's reply vividly. Her aunt had smiled secretively and said, "it is impossible to describe, Delenn. I can only say that you will understand when you see it for yourself. It will be one of the most wonderful moments of your life."
She had often imagined saying much the same thing to her own children some day, with that same inscrutable smile and her heart full with some unknown emotion.
When she looked into the sleeping face of John Sheridan she felt it. She felt a strong, almost painful pull on her heartstrings, and for one brief moment Delenn saw her future son reflected in his face. Without thinking she reached one shaking hand out to touch him. Oblivious to his companion's turmoil, John turned over in his sleep, rolling away from Delenn and causing her to pull her hand back as if it had been burnt.
She tried desperately to get her breathing and heart rate back under control. She closed her eyes and followed her own advice, concentrating on her breathing, consciously slowing it down.
There was little doubt in her mind now that John Sheridan was meant for her, just as much as she was meant for him. He rolled over onto his back, mumbling something incoherent, and she smiled softly. How many more nights would she spend by his side?
Had you asked her three years ago if a union between a human and Minbari was possible, she would have said no. But it was only one of many impossible things they had accomplished. Delenn had begun to live in the world of impossibility, and she found that she rather liked it there.