Girl Talk

prompts from LJ galpalficathon: Susan and Delenn, Alliance

Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.

When Delenn got back, John was already gone. He'd left the station, quietly, and unobserved, on a mission to save his father. They'd known he'd risk anything to go to the aid of his family.

Of course, he'd left a good part of his family behind.

Susan left next, leaving the station under Delenn's watchful eye. They had become close, these two, and were now bound even closer by a deep unspoken concern over John's action, and its possible consequences. When the news from Mars arrived, Delenn had already sensed that John was in trouble. The subsequent knowledge that Garibaldi had betrayed them only added to her pain. Susan's order to shoot Garibaldi on sight was delivered to the command staff, and a small part of her approved. Under the guise of consultation on station and fleet business, she contacted the commander through secure channels. Privately, she wondered whether it was advice or sympathy she was seeking.

"How are things on the station?" Susan asked, wondering exactly why Delenn had called, although it was good to talk with her. Marcus was obviously worried about her reaction to John's imprisonment and his nervous hovering didn't help. It was easier to deal with Delenn's calm sympathy.

"Fine. Everyone is worried, of course, but no one talks about it. Especially to me." She laughed humourlessly, then added. "I think Londo is planning something."

Susan sighed, "When is Londo not planning something? Let's just hope it's not something disastrous." Pausing, the commander asked in a cool tone. "Have you heard from Garibaldi?"

Delenn nodded. "He has called the station several times, and tried to contact Mr. Allan, and myself, directly. Lt. Corwin takes great pride in coming up with new ways of phrasing the message you ordered. The last time he said Mr. Garibaldi should...I believe the phrase was, 'take a long walk off a short pier.' It took a moment for me to envision that action. I thought it quite inventive."

"That's an old one, Delenn. Still, it shows initiative. Remind me to commend him when I get back."

They both laughed, although neither believed the surface evidence of mirth. For a moment they stared at each other in the monitor screens. The silence grew long and deep between them, reflecting shared tension, and shared fear. Neither was afraid to show it to the other, although it lay hidden from almost everyone else.

Susan thought for a moment, then decided to go ahead and ask. "What are you going to do? I mean, if he doesn't come back?"

A stab of pain crossed Delenn's composed features, but she answered in an even voice. "I will continue rendering what assistance I can to your cause of liberating Earth. My efforts in that regard may be limited, you understand. Also I will try to go ahead and establish the Alliance, with or without your people's involvement. If the Earth Federation fractures, we will extend our hand to the independent colonies..." She hesitated, "I think we will be able to do that. It depends on the other members." She gave a brief laugh. "That is, assuming there are other members. Even if there are, it may be that they will not want to get involved in an ongoing civil war among your people."

Susan nodded, "I guess that's understandable. John has always said this is our fight, not yours." She leaned back in her chair, briefly turning away from the comscreen so that Delenn could no longer see her face. "But what I meant was, are you going to do anything about the ones who've taken him; those in EarthGov, maybe Military Intelligence?" Venomously, she added, "PsiCorps, if they're involved. As they undoubtedly are." She spat out the last words, her face briefly contorted with hatred.

Delenn sighed heavily. "I gave up seeking vengeance long ago. It seems to bring nothing but pain, to those who seek it as well as those who suffer the punishment."

Susan had turned back to better observe Delenn's expression. Her own smile was now hard and fixed. "It can make a point, though. People who do such things need to learn not to do them again."

All her dark night-time imaginings of what was happening to John came rushing into Delenn's mind. "Perhaps," she said intensely, "although they never do seem to learn." Looking at her friend's stern face, she briefly relaxed the tight grip she had clamped down on her emotions. "The Warrior Caste has a way of dealing with those who forfeit personal honour in time of war. They call it the Ritual of Re-education. At times, these last few days, I have wondered whether their methods would work in this case."

"If we win..." Susan smiled briefly at Delenn's look of admonishment. Her friend seemed to have contracted John's habit of hope. "When we win, I'll make sure those responsible find themselves marooned in Minbari space. Entirely by accident."

Delenn looked thoughtful. "That would be unfortunate. Perhaps I could arrange for them to be rescued..."

"By a Warrior caste ship?" interjected Susan.

"Of course. It is they who patrol our borders. They would have to make sure the invaders posed no danger; that they were honorable beings. Very sure." There was a steely undertone to her voice.

"That would be a good idea. You can't be too careful," answered Susan. It was a bit of solace, imagining the outcome. She made a note to ask Marcus about the ritual later.

The two women smiled at each other's images in the fuzzy comscreen. In times of war, alliances can be forged over many things. A shared grievance can form a potent bond, especially when it involves an injury to one's family. So can shared grief; and both women, the Minbari and the human, understood this well.

Marcus hesitated outside the door, then knocked lightly. "Susan?" When she opened the door, he entered. She was just saying good-bye to Delenn and he caught a brief glimpse of his leader before the screen went black.

"Is there a problem? Any thing I should know about?" He thought to himself that the two of them seemed awfully chummy lately.

"No, just a little girl talk." Susan smiled. It wasn't an entirely pleasant smile.

He paled a bit, wondering again what he was getting into trying to court the blasted woman. What was it Kipling had said about the female of the species? He said brightly, "Oh well, that's all right then. We've sighted another EarthForce ship."

"Let's go make them an offer." Susan walked out of the room.

Marcus followed, shuddering briefly. It was an offer they'd best not refuse.