Robbing the Cradle

Author's Note: Garibaldi's witticism was invented by my husband, and this story is dedicated to him.

"Just look at them!" Stephen Franklin beamed in approval as John and Delenn took a turn around the dance floor. It had been an impromptu party, mostly put together by himself and Michael Garibaldi.

He looked around the restaurant and was pleased to see everyone seemed to be having a good time.

"They're a sight all right," said Michael, stuffing most of a canapé in his mouth. "What is this, do you know?" he asked, trying not to spit crumbs at Stephen.

"No idea. The Drakh ambassador had them delivered from his personal chef, so it's likely to involve something insectoid." He watched in amusement as Michael fought to choke down the remnants. "You got a problem with romance, Michael?"

"Naw, romance is great. I've never been too good at the long term stuff though." He cast a thought back to Lise, waiting on Mars. He still didn't know where that was going. "But those two deserve a break after all they've been through. Hell, what we've all been through." Michael looked around, and said in a loud whisper. "So, everything's, you know, all right, between them?"

Stephen looked at him blankly. "As far as I know. What are you talking about?" He looked over at the the new couple. The music had slowed to a waltz, and they were dancing again, close together. Very close together; you'd be hard put to fit a scalpel blade between them.

"I mean, you know, physically." Michael's eyes were alight with curiosity.

Stephen glared at him, "What I know, and I'm not saying I know anything at all, would be private. All that doctor/patient confidentiality stuff isn't just made up for the vids, you know."

"OK, OK. Just asking. I wondered though...what about kids? I know John's tight with his father. I think he'd make a pretty good one himself." Michael's voice was pensive. His knowledge of John's closeness to his father had been used by his late employer, and not in a good way. Still, that was over and done, at least for now. Trying to put those thoughts in the background, he looked at Stephen expectantly.

Stephen shook his head, a little sadly, "Not that I should say even this much, but I'm afraid it's not likely. What about you? You ever think about settling down, having kids?"

"I don't see myself as a father. I loved my Dad, but I know what I put him through. I'm not sure I could do that. It's a hard job." Michael poked about at the tidbits on the tray he'd relieved one of the waiters of earlier. He'd brought it over to the table where Stephen was sitting, observing the revelry. "How about you?"

"No way. I've got enough nieces and nephews as it is. One reason I've never wanted to go back to Earth was all the babysitting I'll be liable for. I tell my sisters, sure, next time I'm on Earth...they've given up asking when that will be." Stephen laughed, and picked up his wine glass, tipping the champagne down his throat.

Michael's expression softened briefly as he considered Delenn's glowing face. "She'd be a good mom, I think." He picked up his water glass and drained it. "What's that saying, 'the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world'?"

Stephen said, slightly exasperated, "Let's change the subject, shall we?"

"Sure," said Michael. "Is it her age that's the problem?" he then asked casually. "Cause you know, she's getting on. She's over sixty," he looked over at Delenn reflectively. "Sure doesn't look it."

Stephen spluttered and choked as Michael helpfully pounded his back. He said, when he got his breath back, "You know that Minbari don't age like we do! You're not going to leave this alone, are you?"

Michael said, "Nope. Biology has always fascinated me." Then he grinned wickedly, "The human part of her is only a few years old though, isn't it? Maybe the President's the one who's robbing the cradle."

Stephen was laughing now, and kept saying, in between trying to breathe, "We shouldn't even be talking about this, really, we shouldn't..."

"Why not? We got cheated out of the bachelor party...that's where these subjects normally come up." Michael filled his glass from the water pitcher on the table, and then topped off Stephen's champagne. Raising his glass, he announced, "Here's to the happy couple. If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then maybe the hand that robs the cradle rules the universe!"


Stephen's helpless gales of laughter rang across the dance floor, and penetrated even John and Delenn's haze of happiness.

"What are they laughing at?" John said, a slight tone of suspicion in his voice. He twirled Delenn around so he could get a better look at his friends.

"They are happy," said Delenn simply. "Everyone here is happy." She looked around the room, full of friends and well-wishers. It was like a dream; being home, being safe, and being with John. "It seems to be contagious; possibly it is something in the air." She smiled up at her husband, then dropped her head back onto his shoulder, a great part of her wishing she could stay in this position forever. "Perhaps Stephen can develop a cure?"

"If he does, I'll shoot him," said John.