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Delenn of Mir and John Sheridan
A Question of Faith 2
Delenn was in her third trimester of pregnancy. Large, uncomfortable, and afraid would aptly describe the mother-to-be. Delenn had spent the first couple of months reading everything she could find on Human and Minbari pregnancies. She spent the next few months cross checking her unique experiences against what all the "experts" said were typical pregnancies. She laughed dejectedly knowing full well there was nothing typical about her pregnancy. And she had spent the last month and a half keeping her growing concern about her condition from John.
Delenn knew how troubled John was about her and the baby, no matter how hard he tried to mask it behind pending father smiles, and endless shopping sprees for every baby toy, clothing, and accessory he could find. No, John just wasn't as good at hiding his emotions from Delenn as apparently she was from hiding hers from him. The last thing Delenn wanted to do was to worry her husband needlessly. He was so busy with the new alliance and the move to Minbar that to add one more stressor would have caused a system overload. Or so Delenn reasoned. In truth, she just couldn't bear the fretful look in his eyes when she caught him staring at her, or the concern in his voice whenever he spoke with her obstetrician. Delenn wanted to spare John. She always felt a need to protect him, and if that meant shouldering her growing concern that all was not right, she would do it. Besides, Dr. Franklin was slated to arrive before the week was out, and she would share everything with him.
Stephen was the only doctor John trusted to provide expert and unbiased care for his family. They worked all the arrangements out a couple of months ago, and Stephen assured him that he would be present to deliver their child. But the way Delenn had been feeling the last week, she wished that her old Babylon 5 friend was here now.
Delenn looked up from the bench on the veranda that overlooked the compound. She had an unobstructed view of the crystal city, and had discovered that it was a perfect location for watching the sun rise. The sun shone brightly in the sky projecting a gleam of multi-colored light off of the headquarters of the Interstellar Alliance building, reminding Delenn of a rainbow after a mid-summer's rain. "Beautiful," she said rising, moving towards the railing. Delenn closed her eyes, took three deep breaths, and arched her neck towards the sun, enjoying the warmth of its rays on her sun starved body.
John had spent the better part of the last five minutes watching his very pregnant wife bask in the early afternoon sun. To him, she was radiant, made even more so by her pronounced maternity bulge. In fact, very little had grown on Delenn these last eight months save her belly. To John's stereotypical man's delight, his wife's breasts had also gotten bigger. And to his shame, he found himself constantly drawn to them like a cat to milk, or a dog to a bone. Natural. Just natural he mused, wondering if his child would mind sharing. Get your mind out of the gutter John. Your wife is about to have your child, and all you can think about is. . ."
"How long are you planning on staring at me?" Delenn said quietly, interrupting John's gentle self-chiding. Delenn never turned around, just continued to gaze out over her beloved city of Tuzanor.
John walked towards his wife, and encircled her and their child in his protective arms. "I didn't want to interrupt," he finally said, after making himself comfortable.
"You're not interrupting John, but you shouldn't spend so much of your time staring at me. Assuredly you have more important things to do than watch me."
"There's nothing more important than you and," he glided his right hand over her stomach, "our baby."
"I know John, but. . ." Delenn sighed not wanting to discuss the underlying reason for John's incessant preoccupation with her.
John knew as well, and hoped he hadn't been too obvious these past months. But hearing the sigh, he now knew otherwise. He could never truly keep anything from Delenn, and didn't know why he even bothered. But of course he knew why he bothered. For the same reason Delenn kept things from him. He wanted to protect her, even from his own fears and worries. She was pregnant, Entil'zha, and didn't need his tension weighing on her as well.
He tightened his hold on her, and brought his lips to her neck gently grazing. He slowly kissed the area bringing a different kind of sigh from Delenn. She turned in John's arms right before he kissed her full on the lips. He was warm, and smelled of the spice scented cologne he liked to wear. John always said the scent reminded him of his father and Earth. To Delenn, the scent was uniquely John, and the sweet aroma filled her nostrils. Still kissing her, John pulled Delenn as close to him as her belly would allow, wanting more of her, but knowing she was too far along for anything more than what they were doing right now.
Delenn was the one who finally broke the kiss when she said, "It won't be too much longer John, and my body will be mine again." She looked down at her stomach and the physical distance it placed between the two of them. "I do think however, these next couple of weeks of peace and quiet should be cherished."
John laughed knowing full well the noise a child can bring to a household. "That's for damn sure Delenn. Liz has taken it upon herself to warn me about the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and drool."
Delenn frowned up her face at the word drool which only made John laugh harder at the thought of his prim and proper Delenn wiping baby spit off of her religious caste robes. He knew the thought of it shouldn't amuse him so much, but it did and damn if he wasn't looking forward to raising a child with Delenn.
"Drooling is very undignified John," she said, "even for a baby."
"It's a baby Delenn. Drooling, crying, and pooping are all part of their job description."
"That's doesn't sound. . . sound. . ." Delenn searched her mind for the correct term, found known, and settled on, "That sounds quite disgusting."
John fought back another laugh, and pulled Delenn back to the bench instead. "It is disgusting Delenn, but I've heard it's not nearly as bad when the child is your own. I've even heard some parents refer to it as cute."
"I can't imagine I would ever find such things cute," she said, frowning up at John in disbelief. "But then again, I've never been a mother before either," she conceded. "Perhaps this crying, drooling, and pooping will not be as bad as it all sounds. One can only hope," she muttered sending a silent prayer to Valen.
"You worry too much Delenn," John said seriously.
"Then that is one thing we have in common," Delenn countered without thinking. She hadn't meant to say those words. She hadn't meant to let him know she knew exactly how much he worried about the delivery. Seeing his sad eyes look away, she said quickly, "John I…"
He took her hand interrupting her. He released a burdensome sigh and said, "I'm sorry Delenn. I try not to worry, honestly I do. But I can't help myself. The dreams won't allow me to do anything other than worry about you and the baby."
Delenn hadn't known about the dreams. She now knew they both had been shouldering their own secrets, both too afraid to worry the other, neither doing a good job concealing the full truth. "When did the dreams start?" she asked.
"Almost two months ago."
Deleen paused realizing the cramps and mild bleeding started around the same time. Had to be a coincidence she told herself. What else could it possibly be? Right?
"I've been having mild cramps and bleeding for almost as long," Delenn found herself confessing.
John simply stared at her. She didn't know if he was worried, angry, or something entirely different. After a few excruciatingly long seconds, John placed his hand on Delenn's stomach and said, "Have you shared this with Dr. Kaleen."
"What did she have to say?"
"For me to rest, stay off of my feet as much as possible, and to call her if it gets worse."
"Has it gotten worse Delenn?"
John sat back on the bench, left hand still on her stomach, but no longer looking at Delenn. "You can't keep such things from me Delenn. This is my baby too and you have no right." He said the words with a calm he didn't feel. He was angry to be sure, but the last thing either one of them needed was for him to lose his temper.
"I know but. . ."
"No buts Delenn," he said, turning to face her. "I know you only did it to spare me the pain, but anything that happens with our child is as much my business as it is yours. We cannot keep such secrets not when it comes to this. Not when it comes to the baby Delenn. "
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Don't be sorry sweetheart, just promise to never do it again. You're always protecting me Delenn. Just once I would like for you to allow me to protect you. Let me be the strong one."
Deleen felt warm tears roll down her cheeks. She was so tired, so desperately tired. John was right. He was often right in such matters. He lifted her carefully from the bench, and for once Delenn didn't protest. She simply held on tight, placed her head on his strong chest, and closed her eyes allowing sleep to claim her.
Two weeks later an anxious and worried John paced outside of Delenn's hospital room. "What the hell is going on Stephen?" he asked impatiently, as soon as the doctor took one step into the hallway.
"I've seen many fathers to-be in my time John, but you take the cake," Dr. Franklin said, smiling at his friend. Seeing John wasn't in the mood he continued. "Look John, as soon as the nurses and religious caste leaders finish what they need to do you can go in."
"I'm her husband," he spat. "I should be able to go in now."
"From what I understand there are certain rituals that must be performed. And since you aren't a member of their caste then. . . ."
"Yeah, I know. I'm not allowed. I've lived on this planet for months, and some of them still treat me like a pariah. Ordinarily I wouldn't give a damn, but this Stephen," he said pointing to the closed hospital door, "is the last straw. Whether they accept it or not, Delenn is as much my wife as she's a leader of their caste."
"I know John," Stephen said, placing a reassuring arm on his shoulder. "They even wanted to kick me out, but in this place I outrank them all. Chin up John. Even in Delenn's state she has asked for you and dared anyone to object."
John couldn't help but smile, envisioning Delenn's stern face and unwavering eyes. "That's my girl," he said, smiling at Dr. Franklin. "Shall we go and wrinkle a few religious caste robes Stephen?" They both laughed and entered the spacious room.
There were two working caste nurses tending to Delenn and five clan members surrounding her in deep prayer. Dr. Kaleen was off in the corner waiting patiently for the ritual to conclude. She and Dr. Franklin had spent the last week conferring and comparing notes. They both agreed, along with Delenn and John, that both would be present during the delivery. Each possessing a knowledge and skill set that the other didn't.
After thirty more minutes of unrelenting prayer, the entourage left and John could finally see his wife unobstructed by bone crests and white robes. She looked so small in the bed, in spite of her very large stomach, John thought. But she looked angelic in her white and gold delivery gown. Her dark brown hair was tied back, and her eyes glowed like the moon off a calm lake.
John took her hand and kissed it lovingly before saying, "Are you ready honey?"
She simply nodded her head yes, too afraid that if she spoke she would cry and lose her much needed self-control. She felt an overwhelming need to meditate and gestured for John to sit next to her. His presence comforted her the way a child's favorite blanket did.
An hour later, John's hand was being crushed by his wife. She no longer looked like an angel and every time Dr. Franklin said 'Push,' Delenn nearly broke his hand. John was really growing to dislike that four letter word, and he almost let other four letter words slip out when his bones protested the ill treatment.
John felt like screaming, but was beat to it. It started small and weak, but grew in ferocity and depth with each breath of air that entered its tiny lungs. The new life wailed announcing his presence to the universe, and when John looked upon the wrinkled figure his hurt hand was all but forgotten. John watched in a state of awe as Dr. Kaleen cut the umbilical cord, and cleaned the fluids from the child's nose and mouth.
"It's a boy," John said smiling fully. He turned to repeat his statement to Delenn when all the color seemed to drain from his face. Blood was everywhere. Delenn's once white gown was drenched in the crimson liquid. It flowed on the white floor and covered Dr. Franklin's hands. John now only faintly heard his son crying in the background drowned out by the thumping of his heart.
"What is going on Stephen," he yelled. "Why in the hell is she bleeding so much? That can't be normal."
"Leave now John," Dr. Franklin commanded. But John remained statue still. He felt like his feet were in quicksand. He couldn't look away from the flushed and bleeding Delenn. He started to walk towards her, but two nurses ran in the room and blocked his route. They worked quietly, quickly, and determinedly.
His eyes found Dr. Kaleen who was holding his son. The small figure in the blue blanket was no longer crying. He was as eerily quiet as Delenn. Perhaps he knows his mother is dying, John thought morbidly. Shaking his head, as if to free himself of the horrific thought, John took the small bundle into his arms. He looked upon his son fully for the first time, and a tear fell from his eyes onto the child's head.
He kissed his son and said, "She won't die little one. Your mother is too strong and stubborn. She would never leave us alone. Not like this. Dear God please, not like this."
Dr. Kaleen looked at John, hesitated for a minute then said, "Let me take him to the newborn care center." John didn't release the baby. If anything, he held on tighter, his only lifeline to Delenn. "President Sheridan I assure you your son will be perfectly safe in my care," the doctor soothed. "He needs to be examined and cleaned thoroughly. And fed if. . ." She let the rest of the sentence hang in the air.
"If Delenn is unable to do it herself," John finished. The doctor nodded and John reluctantly handed the baby over to her. She took the quiet baby out of the room and John's heart sank that much deeper. He looked back at his wife through glassy eyes. He hadn't remembered seeing all of those machines she was hooked to in the room before. But now the heartbeat of her weakened body echoed throughout the room. Each blip on the monitor seemed magnified to John somehow like a timer counting down.
"John you must leave and allow us to do our jobs," Dr. Franklin said pushing John to the door.
"But. . ."
"There's nothing you can do for her John but pray." And before John could utter another word, he was out in the hallway staring at a closed metal door.
As bad as his dreams had been they were nothing compared to this. This was John's nightmare come to life. And no matter how hard he tried he couldn't wake from this dream. He slid down the wall and cradled his arms around his legs. Not caring an ounce who saw him, John wept the tears his son refused to shed.
Two weeks later John proudly brought his family home. They had decided to name their son David after John's father who was the first member of the Sheridan clan to accept Delenn into the family. Delenn was still weak and John doted on her mercilessly.
The house had felt like a cold barren mausoleum without Delenn there. As such, John had taken to spending many nights at the hospital to the chagrin of the nurses. He slept on the couch and watched over Delenn while she recuperated. He just couldn't bear to sleep in their bed alone. At least this way he would be close to her if she needed something in the middle of the night, he reasoned. Or if he needed her, which was closer to the truth.
But now they were all home, and John could do what he wanted without the disapproving eyes of the Minbari hospital staff. Delenn smiled when she saw that John had put a small bassinette in the master bedroom. It was a gift from Ivanova as well as the matching changing table that sat in the corner of the room. John placed a sleeping David in the bassinette before moving to help Delenn to the bed. "I think I can manage John," Delenn said when he reached for her.
"I'm sure you can, but humor me please."
She gave him a smile that let him know she would accept his help, for now. Delenn gingerly climbed in the bed allowing John to tuck her in. She was more tired than she thought, and like David, fell asleep without protest. John gazed at his family heart bursting with relief. Many nights he thought this day would never come. And more often than he cared to remember, he feared that he would be bringing only little David home. A cold shiver ran up his spine at the mere thought of Delenn preceding him in death.
John undressed and slipped in bed next to his wife. He snuggled up close behind her breathing in her lavender scent, and drifted off to sleep. The dreams he thought he had left behind at the hospital started fresh that night.
Every night for the next two and a half months John dreamed of Delenn bleeding to death after giving birth to their second child. The dreams were as disturbing as hell, and John kept them to himself. Delenn was virtually back to normal, and she had established a routine that worked for the three of them. He shouldn't still be having the nightmares, but he was.
The third month came and went, and the nightmares remained. John was tired all the time, and had taken to staying up late and going to bed even later. He avoided intimacy with his wife blaming work and his failure to adjust to having a crying baby in the house. He didn't think Delenn bought his excuses, but she never complained.
Delenn found a sleeping John in the living room. He was on the couch with his head propped up on a pillow. She sat down beside John, shook him, and said, "John it's time for bed. I don't think you will be comfortable sleeping on the couch all night."
John awoke to her soft prodding, and stared warmly into her crystal green eyes. "You're so beautiful," he said, with deep love and affection.
"Nice to know you still think so. I wasn't sure anymore," Delenn said, revealing an undertone of insecurity.
"Of course I still think you're beautiful," he said, sitting up straight.
Delenn ran a hand through his tousled hair, brushed her lips across his, and whispered seductively, "Then show me." She pressed her lips firmly against his. And while his mind yelled no, his body screamed yes. He returned the kiss slowly, enjoying discovering the feel of Delenn against him again. He parted her mouth with his tongue turning the sweet kiss passionate. They kissed deep, long, and unhurried. They hadn't done this in so long, too long. Delenn rose and straddled John's thighs. She leaned in and started kissing his neck ever so deliciously. "Ah baby," John moaned, running his hands under her silk robe and up her smooth thighs. John had noticed that Delenn had taken to going to bed topless recently, which made middle of the night feedings much easier, but damn she wore absolutely nothing underneath the robe. Her warm inviting body teased him as did her tongue which was lanquidly exploring his mouth. Delenn unbuttoned his shirt and slid her hands inside eliciting another deep throated moan from John.
He was being buried alive by her kisses, her touch, and his own raging desire. He wanted Delenn so bad that he could already feel her warmth and wetness around him. He was like a man in a trance. "Make love to me John. It's been so long," Delenn purred, in his ear.
Suddenly, a vision of a bleeding and dying Delenn flashed through John's mind. He leaned back from her startled and said in a near panic, "We can't do this Delenn. It's too soon."
"It's not too soon John. Dr. Kaleen cleared me to resume work and all other activities over a month ago," she said frustrated, knowing they had this same discussion only two weeks ago.
Delenn stood fighting the urge to cry, scream, or throw something, preferably John. "This is the third time you have. . . ." she paused thinking back to the other times John had given her an excuse as to why they couldn't make love. In fact, John had been physically distant and Delenn didn't know why. If she didn't know John so well, she would have sworn he was having an affair. Instead, she came to the conclusion he no longer desired her as he had before the pregnancy. Pride and fear prevented her from asking. She finally said, "I won't ask again John," and started to walk away.
John grabbed her arm halting her movement. His pleading eyes looked up at her and said, "Please don't go honey. Allow me to explain."
Delenn sat back on the couch and clasped her hands in her lap. After a few minutes of simply sitting and thinking John finally said, "I'm afraid of losing you Delenn. I keep having these nightmares of you dying in childbirth. I thought they would go away in time, but I can't shake them."
"Is this the reason why you've been avoiding me? Why we haven't been intimate in spite of the doctor clearing us?"
"Yes," he said ashamedly. "I didn't want to risk you getting pregnant again, and something horrible happening to you. It would be my fault Delenn. The thought of losing you is too much for me to bear."
"As is the thought of losing you John."
He opened his mouth to speak then shut it tight. "Your dream is my reality. I live with the fact I will lose you in nineteen short years, and I will have to go on without you for many more years after that."
John never felt so small and selfish in his life. He'd been so consumed with his own fears of being left adrift in this world without his soulmate, he'd forgotten Delenn had married him knowing he would leave her all too soon.
"Oh god Delenn, how could I've been so blind?"
"I think seeing me almost bleed to death had something to do with it," she said, rubbing his cheek. "I understand better than you could possibly know John. I've also had such nightmares, and they don't scare away easily. I will not, however, precede you in death."
"After what happened, how can you be so sure?"
She shrugged her shoulders and said, "I just am. I also know I won't become pregnant again unless we want to give David a baby sister or brother."
At this John arched his eyebrows. "And how can you be so sure of that? We thought you couldn't get pregnant the last time and you see how that turned out."
She stood, walked towards the bedroom, and turned to give him a sultry smile. "Stephen gave me a shot before he left. He said it was birth control he designed specifically for my unique anatomy. Minbari don't believe in birth control, as you know, but I figured I would be the exception. You aren't the only one who's had death dreams John."
"You mean to tell me," he said rising, "that you've been on birth control this whole time."
"Yes," she said sweetly, moving further into the bedroom.
"And you didn't bother to tell me?" He followed her into the bedroom like a lion tracking its prey.
"You never asked. I would've if I'd known you were deathly afraid of me becoming pregnant, and seeing my funeral in your dreams."
"That's not funny Delenn," he said, pouncing before she could make another move away from him.
"You mean to tell me I've been driving myself crazy for the last month and a half for nothing? That I've been denying myself. . ."
She kissed him fiercely swallowing the rest of his sentence. They fell back on the bed in each other's arms. "David is in his room, and neither one of us has an early appointment," Delenn said, giving John her best sensual smile. It worked. John quickly undressed and rejoined Delenn in bed. He slipped off her robe as if he was unwrapping a highly anticipated Christmas gift. John intended to take his time and make love to his wife very, very slowly. He started at her neck and kissed over her entire body enjoying the salty sweet taste of her on his lips and tongue. While Delenn had lost most of her pregnancy weight, she maintained a few pounds, which to John's delight, added to the fullness of her hips, thighs, and breasts. John swirled his tongue around her nipples, and sucked ever so gently at the milk bloated breasts, tasting the tangy sweetness of the liquid nectar. Oh yes, David would definitely have to share. "Ohh John, that feels so good," Delenn sighed with pleasure, pulling John closer to her.
The first time they made love, it was hot and soothing like a cup of herbal tea on a cold winters night. The second time they made love, it was fierce and wild like an untamed Colt on the prarie southwest. And the third time they made love, it was short and satisfying like a mid-day nap at a five star hotel.
"I love you Delenn," John whispered in her ear as she slept. "Thank you for giving me David and the next nineteen years. I could never live them without you."
A few minutes later John fell asleep, and for the first time in months he didn't dream of the death of his beloved. Instead, he dreamed of a white haired Delenn standing beside a tall thin man with brown hair and a bone crest for a crown. On the wall above them was a plague that read, "John Sheridan: Husband, father explorer, and soldier. Loved forever and never forgotten."
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