Timeline/Spoilers: These take place over the same five years as the series, with roughly one for each season. Spoilers through season four in numbers three and four; number five is meant to be read with the events of S4 in mind, even if they aren't directly referenced.
* * *
She checks her comm channel reservation again, waiting impatiently for the chrono to tick over from 1729 to 1730. The system will cut her off after exactly half an hour, and she wants to use every minute she's allotted.
As soon as the chrono flickers, she taps out the number and waits for her call to go through.
A few seconds later, the blue and gold of the BabCom system interface evaporates from the screen, replaced by a woman with gray hair and blue eyes sitting in a sunny kitchen.
Susan smiles and, speaking in her native Russian, says, "Happy birthday, Mama!"
* * *
"Where do you want to go for lunch?" Talia asks as Susan locks out her console.
She has been thinking of gyros all morning. Talia smiles. "Greek sounds good to me."
When she was first taken in, it bothered her that, as a P1, she is unable to read anyone's thoughts but her biological mother's, while her mind is transparent to most other members of Psi Corps. Now, though, she barely notices. They are all family after all, children of the Corps, and she has no secrets to keep from her family.
She and Talia set off for the Greek deli across the street from headquarters. They pass other members of Psi Corps in the halls, greeting them with nods and a brush of minds. Along the way, they nearly run into a black-clad psi cop. He looks like he's going to ignore them, but then he seems to recognizes her. "You're Susan Ivanova, aren't you?" he asks.
"Yes," she replies, a bit nervous.
"You applied for the administrative assistant position in my office."
"Yes, I did." She is astonished that he would recognize her based on that.
He smiles. It is fairly charming. "The paperwork hasn't gone through yet, but let me be the first to congratulate you on getting the job."
Her heart flies to her throat. "Me?" she squeaks. "I...? That's...thank you, Mr. Bester!"
"No need to thank me," he says, obviously amused at her excitement. "You were the best person for the job." He gives them a little wave. "Be seeing you." He continues down the hall.
Talia hugs her, all enthusiasm. "Susan!" she exclaims. "This is fantastic! Working for the psi cops is a great opportunity."
"I know. I can't wait to start." Her low rating precludes many positions in the Corps; it might not sound like much, but this is quite the coup for her.
"We should celebrate this," Talia declares. "And I have just the bottle of wine to do it with. Come over tonight?"
Susan smiles. "Of course."
* * *
Two days after her failed attempt to rescue John Sheridan at Z'ha'dum, she runs into Marcus in a market in the Zocalo. He is buying dinner; she is buying vodka. When he asks if there's anything he can do to help, something snaps inside her.
She invites him to her quarters, and before the door is even shut all the way, she kisses him. It takes a moment for him to respond--she has, apparently, managed to shock him--but when he does, he is as eager as she thought he would be. Their bags clatter to the carpet, forgotten.
"Susan?" he asks cautiously when she lets him up for air. "Not that I'm complaining, but...why the change of heart?"
She tells him not to ask questions he doesn't want the answers to. After a moment, he nods, and she leads him to her bed.
* * *
Susan Ivanova, acting captain of the Poseidon, orders her weapons officer to fire everything they've got. There's no way they're getting out of this alive, damaged as they are, but damned if they aren't taking a few of those rebel ships with them. Hell, maybe the little purple and white one they just blew apart was carrying that traitorous bastard John Sheridan.
They stop firing. "That was all we had," the lieutenant running weapons says. "Weapons are too damaged to recharge."
One of the rebel destroyers is powering up its guns. "Do we still have engine power?" she asks.
"Some," the young man at the helm says.
Her eyes narrow. "Send us straight into them."
The officer pales, but he remains calm. "Aye, ma'am."
She doesn't agree with everything Clark and his men have done to Earth Alliance. She is Russian, and she knows enough of her history to distrust dictators. But attacking your own government, firing on ships filled with your brothers in arms, is not the way to make things right.
She will stake her life on that.
* * *
Tired of staring at the chrono on the wall, Susan turns over, trying not to jostle the man sleeping beside her.
It doesn't work. "Can't sleep?" he asks, the slight thickness in his voice the only sign that she's woken him up.
"No," she whispers, squirming to get comfortable, since he's awake anyway.
His hand is warm through the cool satin of her nightgown, splaying over the swell of her belly. "Little guy doing somersaults in there?" It's dark, but she can hear the smile in his voice.
"She is being pretty quiet, actually." Sometimes she thinks they agreed to be surprised by the baby's gender purely so they could argue about it for nine months.
Michael moves his hand from her stomach to her hair, twining strands around his fingers. "What is it?"
"When I was in my office this afternoon, I felt an incredibly strong burst of emotion, telepathically. Someone was...very happy." The feeling had, at least at first, been very pleasant to experience, like the mental equivalent of hot cocoa sliding down her throat on a cold day. "I've never felt anything like it, or anything that lasted this long."
She can just barely see his brow furrow. "You've said that you can pick up strong emotions from other people."
"Yes, but I've always needed to be in the same room--able to see them. No one else was with me." Now her own hand comes to rest on the roundness in her abdomen that conceals the new life developing inside her. "Except...the baby."
The hand stroking through her hair stiffens.
She rattles on, her fears making a runaway train of her words. "Maybe it's just because of my ability-- we're sharing a bloodstream, that's about as close as you can get--and I was able to read my mother, so genetics might play a part..." She finds she is gripping his shoulder hard enough to make her knuckles hurt. "But we're still mostly in the dark about how the ability is inherited. This child could be a telepath." She pauses, and then finally voices the most terrifying of all her fears. "If she is, and the Psi Corps finds out..."
Michael closes his fingers over the hand that still rests on her stomach. "Bester will never get his hands on our child," he says, the words knife-edged.
It is the same promise she has made daily, repeating the words like a prayer: The Psi Corps will never touch this child. Telepath or not--and Psi Corps has a way of getting its claws into those who are not--they will protect this delicate new creature waiting to be born. No matter what happens.
"No, he won't. None of them will."
It takes them both a long time to fall asleep.