Gapfiller: S5, The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.
What had started out to be a very long day looked to be becoming even longer. After the revelation this morning that Lennier planned to leave her service and join the Rangers, the news had come of Londo's illness. Delenn's plans for the day lay in tatters; she desperately needed some time to consider Lennier's decision, the reasons behind it, and what it all meant. Now, along with that mental need pressing on her, and in addition to all her normal workload, she also she felt she had to visit Londo in MedLab. He had been a part of her life for so long. The thought of losing him, coming on the heels of the knowledge that she was losing her closest associate, left her feeling forlorn. She tidied away the papers she had been working on, fighting back tears as she looked at Lennier's precise handwriting, his carefully detailed notes attached to each file. Trying to juggle her responsibilities as executive board member of the Interstellar Alliance with her continuing duties as Minbari ambassador had been hard enough with Lennier's able assistance. She wasn't sure she could handle it without him. Deciding not to tell John that morning until she had discussed it with Lennier had been difficult. They had become so close that he could tell something was bothering her, but he respected her privacy and didn't ask questions. Concealing events from him brought back bad memories of other secrets, and the sometimes disastrous results of keeping them. It had been painfully obvious from their conversation that Lennier was concealing secrets as well.
The com chimed, and a pleasantly innocuous computer-generated voice announced, 'Incoming message from Anla'Shok Durhan. Origination: Minbar.'
Real time communication through hyperspace was expensive, which was why most communication was still done by courier and data crystal. She crossed the room to the monitor, touching the screen to signal acceptance of the call, and said, "Durhan, this is a surprise. It has been a long time since we last spoke. How may I be of service?"
"Delenn," came the low rumble of her old friend and trainer, "You look tired. You should come home, and bring your infamous mate. I've heard so many rumors that I find myself intensely curious about him. The new headquarters is progressing nicely; it's about time you came to look over the work."
Smiling at his comments, she replied, "I may well do that. If time allows. And speaking of time, I have to visit an ill friend. Is there something I may do for you?"
Durhan made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a growl, "You have become impatient of late, Delenn. No time for pleasantries, on to business!" He paused, then his voice became more serious, "I am concerned about one of our new recruits. His file just crossed my desk, and I would like to know your thoughts."
"Lennier." Delenn said with a sigh. "I thought so. Is there some problem with his petition?"
"No, all is as it should be. He has an exemplary record, and has been accepted. His cohort will be at the station in the morning to escort him to our training base." Durhan hesitated, then continued, "I must admit I was surprised when I saw his name on the list. Have there been any problems there? He has been with you, what, going on five years now?"
"No problems with his work." Delenn prevaricated. "He has spoken to me of his wish to join the Rangers. I believe it has to do with his friendship with Marcus Cole, and grief at his fate."
Durhan's brief response spoke volumes. Delenn hoped he wouldn't pursue the matter, but felt she had to make some further statement. "He will be irreplaceable here. But I cannot gainsay his decision. It is the calling of his heart, and he must be allowed to follow it, wherever it may lead."
Durhan was silent for a moment, his face solemn. Then he smiled, "Very well then. We will welcome our new recruit. Picking up the pike of a fallen warrior is an honorable act. Cole was a troubled man, but I liked him very much. I had hoped he had found his peace with the Rangers and their mission."
"He did. Marcus followed his heart, as well. His was an honorable end."
Durhan looked at her fondly, "I hope that you will replace your aide soon. I was serious when I said you look tired. Return to your duties, then. Let me know when you plan your next visit."
"I will, Durhan. Farewell." Delenn broke the connection, and sighing, finished adjusting the work that would need her attention on her return. Then she left for MedLab.
It hadn't taken Lennier long to pack his small carryall for the trip to Minbar. His initial training would take place there, and the rest would be aboard ship and at scattered training bases in various sectors, depending on where the Anla'Shok leadership decided he should go. He did not imagine that following orders would be a problem for him. He had been following them for years. Little had he imagined at the beginning of this journey where it would lead him. He knew in his heart he would no longer fit in at home on Minbar; he had seen and experienced too much. The Rangers were the only place he felt he could find peace, and still be of service to Delenn.
His com sounded. He wondered briefly if it was Delenn; perhaps she wanted him to reconsider. He could not, of course; that would mean going back on his word to the Anla'Shok. The momentary hope flared and died as he checked the origin of the call: Minbar.
Suppressing his surprise at the person who appeared on the monitor screen, Lennier said, "Sech Durhan. How may I be of service to you?" Suddenly Lennier was concerned that Delenn had protested his petition. As Entil'zha, she could undoubtedly sway the recruitment committee. She wouldn't do that, would she? Unless she wanted him to stay, or felt him unworthy; a mix of hope and doubt and fear shot through his mind.
Durhan replied, "Greetings to you, Lennier. I wanted to call and personally welcome you to our ranks. I am looking forward to working with you at some future time. We, of course, know of your efforts in the recent war, and your work with Delenn on Babylon 5. I have spoken with her, and she recommends you highly."
"I thank you, and her for her kind words." Lennier was trying to decide what lay behind the call. Durhan himself would not be conveying words of casual welcome to new recruits.
"I admit I was intrigued when I saw your name. You have been of great service to Entil'zha Delenn. She described you to me as irreplaceable. But she also assured me that this was where you were called at this time. So I will look forward to meeting you when you reach Minbar."
"Thank you, Durhan. It will be my pleasure, and an honor to serve with you." Lennier shut off the monitor, and sat down on the nearest chair. Irreplaceable, she had called him. Yet she had replaced him. He had been her mainstay, the 'rock beneath her feet', the one she had always been able to turn to and to depend on; no matter what crusade she was pursuing. He had sat by the chrysalis for weeks, not knowing whether she would emerge again, but ready to watch and wait. He had gone into the Markab isolation chamber with her, risking death from the disease that wiped them out, in order to remain by her side. He had watched her put herself in danger over and over again, and protected her as best he could, within the limits she set on him. He had been her link to the other Minbari on the station when her status had declined after her eviction from the Grey Council. His dissatisfaction with this supporting role had come upon him gradually. As hard as it was admitting it to himself, it had grown as her affection for Sheridan had grown, as she had come to depend on the human for the emotional support she had previously drawn from him.
He had told her he was no longer comfortable around them. A more honest telling would have described a deep burning combination of shame and disgust. She was not the same person around Sheridan; even her voice changed when she spoke to him, becoming slower and suggestive, with a hint of laughter at the edges. She walked differently with him, almost dancing by his side. She was so happy. If he was a better man, he would rejoice at her happiness, and be content. The Anla'Shok would help him become a better person; it must. For it wasn't him that was irreplaceable, it was her. He belonged to her; heart, body, and soul. The quest he was on would surely lead him back to her side, in one capacity or another. It had to. Minbari never say good-bye.
'I will see you in a little while'.
Lennier to Delenn