Summary: Gapfiller, the end of Shadow Dancing, before the snow globe shatters.
Disclaimer: JMS, Babylonian, and Warner Brothers own them; I just let them out for air.
The first of many battles was over. The Whitestar returned to Babylon 5 space, and most of her crew shuttled over to the station. Sheridan and Delenn walked out of the docking bay.
"So," said Sheridan.
"I need to go check on Franklin, and then, well, I guess I'll call it a night."
"Don't be long."
"I won't. I couldn't be," he said, not needing a reminder that she would be Watching.
"I know. I will wait."
Sheridan paused, unsure how to ask his next question. Your place or mine? Too crass. He settled for, "Where?"
She smiled, and replied, "Do you prefer to tempt death, or to tempt fate?"
"I'd say we've already done enough of both for one day." As if this arrangement will not be tempting something … wherever we are.
"Then, I would suggest that you will be more comfortable in your own bed. Is that not so?" She paused, not sure whether she should say more. Instead, she brushed her hand down his cheek, smiling as she turned to go. "I will be in your quarters when you are ready."
Sheridan made his way to Medlab, trying to keep his mind on the task at hand. In the corridors, he managed to nod at people who greeted him, but just barely.
I guess someone found Franklin before he found himself. They said he's going to be okay... I wonder if he'll come back to his job. Seems like it's the job that got to him in the end. The job... it'll get me in the end too. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow I may die. Hah. Used that one on her already, didn't I. Worked once, maybe it'll work again. Geez, I'm thinking like a teenager – "work" – for crying out loud. Right. Medlab.
"And what are you?" He intentionally did not ask the Vorlon question, "Who are you?"
"Alive. Everything else is negotiable."
Sheridan's combadge bleeped.
"I have a message from Ambassador Delenn. She says she awaits your pleasure."
Franklin raised an eyebrow at this. Sheridan pretended he did not notice.
"Tell her I'll be right there," Sheridan replied to the Babcom officer. He ended his conversation with Franklin. "It's good to have you back."
"It's good to be back."
Sheridan turned, and made his way back through the corridors.
I'm sure never going to get to sleep with her watching me. Aw, hell, these days I never sleep much anyhow, so what's three more nights? Who am I kidding, I won't be able to take three nights. These long Minbari rituals... maybe we can compromise. The bringer-together of worlds, plus the ambassador – we oughta be able to work something out.
OK, home. Now what? Do I ring the doorbell, at my own place? That's dumb. Do I just walk in? Maybe also dumb. Stand here a while longer? Even dumber. Damn.
He walked in. Delenn was at the counter, peeling an orange.
"John. Will you have some?" she said, offering him half.
"Thanks." He went around to her side of the counter. They stood side by side, eating their orange segments. "I'm too tired for any real supper."
"Well, perhaps you will sleep easily, if you are so tired." She knew he wouldn't – she knew he never did.
"Some humans actually have more trouble getting to sleep when they're too tired," said Sheridan, taking off his jacket and draping it over a stool.
"And you are one of these, I know. For a Minbari, that would not be possible."
"And what about you? You must be exhausted. When will you sleep, if you're going to be watching me?"
"Minbari do not need so much sleep as humans. It seems that this is a Minbari trait that I have managed to hold on to."
"Hmmph." Sheridan made his usual sound, which Delenn could interpret only as assent. He picked up his jacket, and headed to the sleeping area.
Delenn finished her orange segments. "I will give you privacy while you do whatever mysterious things human men do before sleep."
Oh, let's not even go there, darlin'. He turned, and grinned. "Yeah, really mysterious – brushing teeth, washing face, comfy jammies – all very strange."
"What is a jammy?"
"Well, it's short for pajamas—"
"Oh yes, a sleeping garment. Minbari have this also." Delenn tried to picture how human sleeping robes might look, and failed.
"Look, I'm beat. I'm gonna go wash up, and then, well, I guess I'll..."
"What is it, John?" Delenn moved to join him, sensing his discomfort, but not sure what to say or do.
Sheridan sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Well, how do we do this, anyhow?"
"It is not complicated," Delenn said, along with her bell-like laughter. "You sleep, I watch."
"No, no, I mean, do I just ignore you? Or, can I say good night? And do you have to watch while I'm actually trying to fall asleep, or do you sneak in later?"
Delenn laughed softly, and reached her hands up to Sheridan's shoulders. "Sneak? I think you are uncomfortable, John. Let's say good night now, and I will go in when I hear that sound – snoring – and then I can just – "
Sheridan put his finger over her lips. "You never make me uncomfortable." Sheridan nearly kissed her, but realized this was not the time. Instead, he reversed course, said, "I have the system set up for 15 minutes of rain sounds once the lights are out. Once that's off, if I don't turn it on again, you'll know I'm out – asleep," he clarified, not wanting to spark another discussion of idioms. He smiled down at her. "Good night, Delenn. Oh – and make yourself at home. I have some data crystals of some of my favorite movies if you want to watch them."
Delenn smiled at this. "I will have nicer things to watch." She pushed and spun him a little, knowing that he wouldn't go on his own. "Now go, and sleep well."
Delenn retreated silently into the kitchen area, taking care to be as far from him as possible, knowing that he needed space now, knowing she did too. She sat on a stool at the counter, resting her chin on her hands. Her hands smelled of orange peel – now one of her favorite smells, since it always reminded her of John.
What in Valen's name am I doing? Is it wrong, for a Minbari and a human to engage in a Minbari ritual? Is this unfair to John? I did explain to him why we do this. I wonder what human customs are, when a male and a female become close. I am supposed to be an ambassador, but it seems I may be looking at this situation only from my perspective.
Which is, what? Am I truly Minbari any longer? Dr. Hobbs did say that outwardly, except for the head bone and facial structure, my body is human. But I still feel that I am the same person I was before the transformation. Mostly.
Mostly. She heard the sound of rain.
Mostly. If I am to be the bridge between humans and Minbari, then is "mostly Minbari" quite human enough? I think it is no accident, though, that my attraction to a human – to John – came at the same time as my transformation. I certainly spent many hours with Commander Sinclair, but it was... different. Yes, even my thought of him as "Commander Sinclair" is telling. I never thought of him as a male, just as a colleague, a friend, perhaps. With a burden of guilt on my part, as well, for what I, as part of the Grey Council, did to him at the Battle of the Line. And, even not knowing who he would be – was – he seemed just as Minbari in spirit as he did human. Yet, there was never the spark of attraction, never the wanting to touch, never the needing to be near.
But now, this man, this very human man, reaches me in ways that no Minbari male ever did. All young people, all races, everyone has attractions, and of course I did as well. But now? This is different. Is it just that it is the first time I have truly loved? Or, am I experiencing love in a way that humans do, and Minbari do not? I do not think that this is so, from knowing other Minbari who have loved well.
I seem to be back to Sebastian's question, now: Who am I? He was satisfied, in the end, and thus the Vorlons were as well. But I am not. So, then, who am I?
Delenn stood, and washed her hands at the small sink in the kitchen area. The scent of oranges rose with the vapors from the warm water.
A walking meditation now, yes. Until I hear no more rain.