Title: A Split Second Of Eternity.

Fandom: Babylon 5.

Characters: Sheridan, Lennier, Delenn.

Rating: T.

Disclaimer: I do not think that I can do a better, equal or even passable imitation of The Great Maker Stracysnski. This is just for fun. I don't own it. I don't get money from it. Sue me and I'll laugh. And hide.

Warnings: Angst, swearing, painful memories, mention of death.

Spoilers: Season 5 Episode 21 Objects At Rest. One MAJOR spoiler. And some others too.

Summary: In the heat of betrayal, who is the one in the wrong?

Author's Note: I always did wonder what he was thinking when this happened.

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Sheridan's face was pale with stress, yet his neck was flush with exertion. The other Ranger lay on the floor, unconscious or dead Lennier couldn't tell. "Lennier hit the panel." Said Sheridan, matter of factly. Lennier nodded and reached for it, marvelling that, in such a life or death situation, Sheridan could still think so clearly and calmly and act without panicking. Must be what made him such a good Military Commander, even during the war-

His hand right above the panel that would open the door and free Sheridan and the Ranger, Lennier froze. The scene froze. Time froze.

The War.

The Black Star.

Mother and Father.

So far away from their beloved son who they sang Tee'la poetry to every night, who they cradled and held and told was the sole point of their existence. Who they taught cooking and religion and laughing and fun. Who they loved. So far away from him when Sheridan lured their ship into a trap where he made the decision to push a button that ended their lives and the lives of hundreds of others. So far away from him when they died.

And when they were gone he was left with no loving mother, no adoring father, just a cold, emotionless upbringing in a sombre temple that frowned on running and loud laughter. He didn't laugh again after that. And he only rarely smiled.

Then he'd come to Babylon 5 and he'd met her. Her. The only person who could be called her and who would have an identity without needing to point a finger, because she was the axis upon which his world rotated. Delenn. Her name was an oath by which he lived, her eyes were the stars by which he set his map and her voice was the sound of the greatest perfection in this universe. He loved her with the fire of an infinite number of suns and his admission to her of such when they thought they were going to die had burned him by her dismissal of it as a moment of madness. Why had she dismissed it like that?

Because of him. John J Sheridan. Captain John J Sheridan, President John J Sheridan. Starkiller. Because he had convinced her she loved him more than Lennier. Because he had taken everything that mattered from Lennier once before and had wanted to do it again.

His heart suddenly swelling and cracking with pain, Lennier put his arm down and backed away like a man who was dreaming- drifting away, staring at Sheridan, who was calling out to him, questioning his retreat. But that's not what Lennier saw. He saw a slathering, greedy animal, finally trapped in a cage where it belonged. A foul disgusting monster that reached with filthy hands for everything it didn't deserve, for the respect of the Minbari people, for the power of the Interstellar Alliance and for the love of Delenn.

As Lennier backed away down the hall, finally turning to run, he corrected himself. A soulless creature like Starkiller couldn't feel love. Its hands didn't seek Delenn's love, they sought her heart so he could control her, her soul so he could use her... All so he could get her body. Lust and greed, they were the only things a thing like Starkiller could understand. As Lennier ran further away, he thought, 'what does he know of real love, of respect, even of friendship'...

Then a memory, clear as anything, came through. The feeling of Sheridan's hand on his shoulder, a gesture of comradeship among humans, as they watched the Shadows retreat from their forces for the first time. Sheridan calling the White Star he'd been assigned to back from Centauri space. Sheridan trying to understand Minbari rituals and follow their rules without demanding things between him and Delenn be done his way.

Sheridan coming back from Zha'Ha'Dum. The way he'd held Delenn on the walkway. The fact that he already had only 19 years of life left, and Lennier was stealing those years away from him and Delenn, snatching at them irrationally, like a drowning man looking for a handhold. Then he heard it.

"Lennier you bastard!" A desperate yell from a man who had extended the hand of friendship to Lennier. The man who Lennier had rejected, and was now trying to blame for it. The man who was the love of Delenn's life, however much it tortured Lennier to admit it. He couldn't let him die. He couldn't. He couldn't.

"I can't!" Not realizing he'd spoken aloud, Lennier turned and ran back to Sheridan, praying frantically that it wasn't too late, that he wasn't too late, that his mistake could be undone, that he would have the opportunity to beg Sheridan to allow him to put things right...

He rounded the last corner and saw Sheridan sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall with the other Ranger next to him. As other Rangers came running in with medical equipment, Lennier breathed a sigh of sheer relief that his mistake had not had fatal consequences. Then Sheridan, pushing away the oxygen mask, looked up and saw Lennier standing there. They looked into each other's eyes and, in that split second of eternity, both saw what could never be put into words in the others'.

Sheridan saw the remnants of accusation and selfish terror and hatred that had driven Lennier to his seconds of insanity. And Lennier saw that accusation in Sheridan eyes, the man's silent condemning of Lennier for what he had done, for his most personal betrayal of a friend in the name of something that couldn't be love, not if had been willing, however long for, to leave Delenn without this man she cared for so deeply.

Lennier saw no forgiveness, no willingness to listen, and no tolerance for something that shouldn't be tolerated. A traitor. A backstabber. A murderer. Because that's all Lennier was now.

The vast well of guilt and shame gaped open before him and Lennier felt his heart shatter and his mind scream in grief for what he had thrown away. He barely heard Delenn's desperate question- "What happened?!"- as he turned and ran. Ran away from the pain, the loneliness, the loss, the grief and the guilt. Ran to search for silence, for peace, for calm, not understanding that, with those steps of flight, he was sealing his fate to be without friendship or companionship for the rest of his life as he carried his chains or fear and self-loathing with him.