Spirits

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



Delenn took the data crystal and tucked it into a hidden pocket of the dark grey cape that covered the sleek green microfiber dress she wore on these excursions into Grey Sector. The attire was informal and afforded relative freedom of movement; which was important as there were elements of both disguise and danger in this assignation.

At times she met the Rangers who came on their courier missions here; in the untraveled areas, the dark places of the station. She thanked the Anla'Shok for his report; he bowed respectfully to her and then left as quietly as he had come. Hastening back to the central corridor, she stopped short when she saw a beam of light sweeping back and forth, highlighting the dingy grey walls that sloped upward to an curved ceiling. Shrinking back against the wall, she held her breath, hoping whoever it was would pass by, leaving her unseen.

Whoever it was was moving silently, almost as silently as a Ranger. As the tall blocky figure moved into her line of sight, she was momentarily blinded by the light picking her out of the shadows. It was apparent that her attempts at concealment had not worked. Shielding her eyes, she strove to identify the person, and to quickly decide what course of action was required.

"Who's there? Come out, now."

The voice was deep, authoritative, and familiar. She stepped into the center of the corridor, pinned by the bright light, and greeted him. "Captain Sheridan."

"Delenn?" Sheridan's voice was incredulous. He lowered the light, but it still illuminated the dingy floor of the corridor. Even in the shadows that gathered around her, he could see that she was not dressed in her normal robes. "What are you doing down here?"

"I might ask you the same thing," she replied, thinking furiously. The time had not yet come to reveal the existence of the Rangers to him. The secondary reason she had chosen this spot would suffice to fulfill her obligation to speak the truth. "I came to see where the Markab died."

"Why on earth would you want to do that?" Sheridan glanced down the corridor. "I heard voices. Is someone here with you?"

"No," replied Delenn. Not any more. Shivering slightly, she stepped toward Sheridan. "The Markab believe the spirit lingers for a time near the place where it left the physical body. I came to say a prayer for him, to speed his soul on its path back to the Universe."

Sheridan looked nonplussed at this explanation. "Did you know him?"

"Not personally. My people have known the Markab race for a long time. We share a history. When I heard of this incident, I thought I would show respect for one who briefly lost his way in the world, to the extent of removing himself from it prematurely." Sadly she looked back towards the room from which she'd come. "Any loss of life diminishes us all." Moving closer to the Captain, she added, "Ambassador Fashar directed me to this place. The Markab priests and representatives of the unfortunate's sect have already completed their own rituals."

She stood just opposite Sheridan now, and looked up at his face, indistinct in the dim light. "And what brings you back to this place?" Fashar had given her some details of what had happened, and the involvement of Sector 14 had been noted. She had given an account of what she knew to the Anla'Shok who had just left her. He was taking it directly to Entil'zha on Minbar. Jeffrey Sinclair retained a lively interest in all activities in that sector after his previous experiences there.

"Hunting ghosts, I guess." Sheridan's posture and voice were more relaxed now. "This area of the station is apparently called the Triangle. Spooky things happen here." He smiled at her expression, which turned actively curious at his choice of words.

A smile hovered on her lips. "Spooky...now that is yet another word I do not recognize. Is it something to do with these ghosts? Those are apparitions, correct?" Unconsciously she had positioned herself at his side, joining him in looking out into the darkness. "And where did the term Triangle originate? This corridor and the empty spaces off of it do not seem to fall into a triangular pattern."

"Ghosts are the uneasy dead; those who don't go to...wherever the dead go when they're dead. Spooky is an adjective meaning slightly creepy, a little less than scary. Haunted maybe?" He shut his mind to the thought of exactly who was haunting him, especially after his vision of the Icarus. Focusing his attention on Delenn, he continued. "There was a spot in the middle of the ocean, back on Earth, where ships and airplanes were said to disappear. All sorts of strange things happened there. Some people said the past and present and future got all mixed up inside this roughly triangular area of space. Now we refer to any area where spooky things happen as a Triangle." She was so close he could feel her shivering; the soft fabric of her dress brushed his arm. He just barely restrained himself from putting his arm around her. The impulse felt right, and for a moment he was able to forget the tug of his own ghosts. It felt as if the present was nudging him away from the past.

"Do you believe in ghosts?" asked Delenn curiously. It seemed he was distressed by the concept, and his anxiety disturbed her. "We do not believe the dead linger, although it seems many races do."

"I guess I don't really." He smiled down at her, a sad smile. "Sometimes I wish I did. Ghosts are supposed to remain behind to finish something they left undone. For revenge, or sometimes for love." His voice fell to a whisper. "Maybe they stay to say good-bye." The corridor was filled with the silence of absence.

Delenn looked into his eyes, her expression serious. "Minbari have no word for good-bye. We believe that those who leave us sometimes return, at other time, in other forms. And in a way they are still here. They live on in our memories. They never really die."

"Do you believe that?" His smile returned, although it did not reach his eyes.

"I do." She smiled back, and briefly touched his arm. "Love never dies." She wanted to alleviate the pain she saw, but she didn't know how.

Sheridan gestured towards the shadowy corridor behind them. "I think I've had enough of this tonight. Can I escort you back to your quarters?"

"I would appreciate that." Looking around at the grey light filtering down from the ventilation shafts, she suddenly longed for the noise and lights of the station center. "Actually, I think I will go in search of someplace bright, with people, and something to eat. Would you care to join me, Captain Sheridan?"

"That's the second time you've asked me to dinner, Ambassador," replied Sheridan gravely.

"Is that inappropriate?" replied Delenn, suddenly worried that she had broken some human taboo. It was so hard to interpret the protocols on who asked whom, and how many times an invitation could be extended without changing innocent extension of hospitality and friendly intent to something more serious.

"Perfectly appropriate, and welcome as well. I know a small place just off the Zocalo. They have live music most nights. There's a jazz band there that I like. Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll be playing tonight." Sheridan smiled down at her, and extended his arm towards her.

This gesture was more definitive, and she stared for a moment, wondering if this was mere courtesy. She hesitantly moved her hand carefully within the confines of his arm, and laid it gently in the crook of his elbow. Even through the thickness of his uniform jacket, she could feel the heat of his body, the the strength of the underlying muscle and the taut tendons offering her escort and protection. It was a touch that would mean much more to a Minbari, and she wondered if he knew that. "I hope the musicians are there. I am unfamiliar with the form known as jazz."

"It's not a strict musical form. Jazz is all about improvisation. The music flows and changes; it adapts to the time and the place, to the instruments and the players. It's like the essential spirit of the music flows through the musicians." He shone the light in front of them, illuminating their path.

"Spirits seem to be the order of the evening." She allowed herself the luxury of looking forward to a few hours dedicated to nothing more than food and music and friendly company. Gently pressing his arm, she tried to dismiss what chill remained with her words. "If there are any souls wandering this station tonight, I wish them peace." Walking close alongside him, she was happy to follow his lead back into the light.