Maggie De Santo liked being a Ranger. She liked it a lot. She had joined five years ago right at the end of the Shadow War when they had needed recruits enough to take a skinny runaway from Proxima Three. The training had been hard, but not nearly as hard as living on the streets of New Sidney, or getting beaten up by her no good stepdad. At least there had been regular food and a place to sleep. You even got used to those thrice-accursed slanted Minbari beds, given enough time.
But what Maggie loved most of all was flying a White Star. She'd known she wanted to be a pilot the moment she'd stepped onto one of those beauties, and seen the way it maneuvered. It was a small ship, as far as battle ships went, but it was a beauty. She remembered the first time her Anla'Shok trainer had taken them up in one, and how she couldn't keep her hands off the controls, or her eyes off the view screen as the stars flashed past. She was in love.
So when she finished her training, it seemed only natural to assign her to a piloting position on a White Star. She had a natural knack for getting those beautiful ships to answer to the gentlest stroke of her fingers. It was the most amazing feeling in the whole world, she thought.
She'd heard a great deal about John Sheridan, of course – who hadn't? He had defeated the Shadows and stood up to Earth Gov. He was the hero of the galaxy, the founder and President of the Interstellar Alliance. He was also her boss. And, as it turned out, on her White Star. He had needed one to transport him to Corronus Seven for talks to include them in the Alliance, and hers happened to be the closest one available.
She'd been terrified of him, of course. He was such a big hero. Among the Rangers, he had an almost religious following. But he'd turned out to be a pretty normal person. He'd strolled into the bridge three hours into Maggie's graveyard shift, a rather sheepish expression on his face.
"Can't sleep," he muttered. "Still on Minbari schedule, I guess. Mind if I sit here for a while?"
Embarrassed, Maggie nodded her head silently, and then turned back to her diagnostics. For another hour, Sheridan seemed to either be staring out the view screen at the red warping of hyperspace, or to be reading data reports. Maggie glanced back at him every now and then, covertly trying to see if he looked anything like the hero she had built up in her mind. He didn't. He wasn't tall enough, for one thing. For another, there was gray in his hair.
Maggie's screen beeped.
"Mr. President? There's an incoming message for you," she glanced at her screen again. "It's from Entil'zha Delenn, sir."
A smile flitted over Sheridan's face.
"I'll take it in the conference room," he said.
He strode confidently into the room adjoining the bridge, leaving the door a little ajar in his haste.
Maggie couldn't help herself. She crept to the closest console, and pretended to run another diagnostic.
Just gathering information, like a good little Ranger, she told herself with a wry smile.
The huge screen in the conference room flickered on, showing Entil'zah Delenn's face.
"Delenn," Sheridan said, a smile in his gruff voice. "This is a surprise. I wasn't expecting to hear from you until tomorrow."
Delenn looked frustrated.
"He will not go to bed, John. I have tried everything, but I am at a loss."
"It is not funny."
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Sheridan said. "I'm not laughing at you."
"He says he will not go to bed until he has said goodnight to you."
"Put him on," Sheridan instructed.
A small face appeared on the screen, bright green eyes wide under messy brown hair.
"David. What's this I hear about you giving your mother trouble?"
The boy clambered up onto his mother's lap, his red and white racecar pajamas looking strange against her elegant religious caste robes.
"Can't sleep unless you say goodnight to me," the child said. "You always say goodnight to me."
"I told you I was going away, didn't I, Son?"
David nodded, his small bone crest visible on top of his hair at the back of his head.
"Yeeees," he drew the word out.
"Then why are you giving your mother such a hard time?"
"You're not here to scare the monsters 'way. What if they get me?"
"He is convinced there is something living under his bed that will hurt him," said Delenn, exasperated, as she cuddled him close. "This is why Minbari sleep on slanted beds. Nothing can hide underneath!"
This was clearly an argument they had had before.
"Do you want a Minbari bed?" Sheridan asked David.
Sheridan's voice was serious when he spoke again.
"Do you remember the story I told you, Davy? The one about the Shadows?"
"Yes," said the boy.
"Do you remember how it ended?"
"You beat the bad guys," said David. "And married Mommy. And lived happily ever after."
"That's right," said Sheridan. "I beat the bad guys. Those monsters under your bed can't scare you, because if they do, I'll beat just like I beat the Shadows. You tell them that, ok?"
David nodded, his eyes wide and serious.
"Now will you go to bed?" Sheridan asked.
David considered this for a moment.
"Will you sing my song, first?"
"If you sing it with me," Sheridan replied. His usually gruff voice was soft. He started first, his voice a warm, deep bass.
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know, dear
How much I love you.
Please don't take
My sunshine away
David's piping babyish soprano joined in, with Delenn's rich alto weaving through the simple, familiar melody.
"You're going right to bed now, Son," Sheridan instructed when they had sung the song through twice.
The boy wriggled off Delenn's lap.
"Ok. Love you, Daddy."
"I love you, David. Goodnight. Sleep tight. Go straight to bed when your mother tells you from now on."
"I will," David promised. "Night."
The boy disappeared from the screen.
"Now, why does he not listen to me like that?" Delenn asked, her eyes following David as he left the room.
"Because he's a boy, and I'm his father. And he's exactly like I was when I was his age," Sheridan answered.
"Your poor mother," Delennn said, smiling.
"You know what, I think I'll call tomorrow, earlier, so he can get to bed on time," Sheridan sad.
Delenn's smile was soft.
"Thank you, John," she said. "He is such a handful when you are not here."
Her smile slipped off her face, and without it she looked tired, Maggie noticed. There were lines around her mouth and circles under her eyes.
Sheridan noticed it as well.
"You should get some sleep too, Delenn," he said.
A wistful look came into Delenn's eyes.
"I never sleep well when you are not beside me," she said.
"Soon, Beloved," Sheridan promised. "Just a few more days and then I can come home."
"We miss you," Delenn said. "Both of us."
"I know," Sheridan replied. "I miss you too. I'll call David at bedtime tomorrow. In the meantime, get some sleep. I love you."
"As I love you," Delenn replied. "Goodnight."
The call ended, and the screen turned black.
"Sleep well, Beloved," Sheridan murmured.
Maggie turned quickly back to her console, trying to look very busy with her diagnostic while surreptitiously wiping tears from her eyes. It was rumoured that President Sheridan and Entil'zah Delenn were very much in love, but she had never witnessed it in person before. Someday, Maggie hoped that someday someone would love her like that.
Sheridan walked back into the room slowly, seeming lost in his thoughts. He sat back down in his char, and picked up the reports he had been reading. Softly, he began to hum.
Maggie felt a smile form on her face as she silently sang along with the familiar tune.
… You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray …
Author's Note: just a random idea that's been floating around in my head that finally took shape. Although I have to say, Maggie is an interesting character. I'd like to know more about her.
Plus, I can never pass up the chance to write a Sheridan!father fic. I'm such a sucker for family men. An itty bitty David Sheridan in racecar pajamas is just too cute!
On a random note, this is the 50th story on my profile. Wow! The big 5-0! *Throws confetti in the air, cheering*