I Will Follow You
If there's no one beside you, when your soul embarks,
I'll follow you into the dark.
Death Cab for Cutie, Plans album
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.
If there's no one beside you…
The flame of the candle filled her field of vision, like a brilliant sun set against a dark sky. She didn't need to see anything else; her focus was the flame, the small flicker of light and hope that was all she had left.
Her mind wandered briefly, wondering where he was right now. Was he was alone in that terrible place? Horribly, selfishly, for a moment she wished that he was alone; that he was not with Anna. Shame burned her throat as she corrected herself: Anna Sheridan, John's wife. The woman deserved that recognition, regardless of what she might have become. The candle sputtered and drew her attention back to the flame. So small, so fragile…it could burn all night, or disappear with an errant breath. Life was just as fragile, and could be ended just as casually.
She had seen death, and had been the cause of it. The blood guilt had threatened to overwhelm her at one time, but she had adjusted, and gone on. As part of her penance, she had made Life her cause, and that cause had become her reason to go on living. Then John had come into her life, and given her new, unexpected meaning and purpose. Now he had gone on without her, into the shadows. The candle flame guttered out. She was alone.
Lennier stood outside Delenn's quarters, considering his next action. Trained to unquestioning obedience; his duty was to support his mentor in all things. But as much as he admired her, he now feared for her. It seemed to him that she had lost her way. Brother Theo had spoken with her today, giving what aid and comfort he could. Lennier had the distinct impression the meeting had not gone well. Delenn was a devout member of the religious caste, and Lennier could not believe she would deliberately seek an end to her pain. She wouldn't go that far, she couldn't... but he wasn't willing to risk that her unfamiliarity with her physical limits would lead her into danger. He decided he had to intervene.
Rather, he had to find someone else to intervene, as she didn't seem to hear him anymore. He wasn't certain she even saw him anymore. It was medical advice he needed, and that meant Dr. Franklin. The human healer had the most knowledge of Delenn's hybrid physiology. Yes, Lennier thought, as he warmed to the idea... she had turned to the doctor after her transformation; she trusted him. He would go to Dr. Franklin, even if it felt like a betrayal. Walking the now familiar corridors of the station, Lennier wondered what would become of him if she left this world prematurely. His promise to stay by her side would be fulfilled, but afterwards.... Lennier realized he had but one wish, that she would find her way back. He wanted her to stay, so that he could stay near her.
When your soul embarks….
She got up slowly; her joints were stiff and they ached as she rose to her feet. Sitting cross-legged on the floor had become painful. The effort to rise seemed needless; there was nowhere for her to go. The Alliance had fractured, the Vorlons were no longer interested in the plight of the younger races, and everyone was waiting for the end.
Brother Theo had come by earlier. He wanted to speak of his God, and his belief that we all go to a better place when these bodies fail us. She knew what he was trying to say. Her love was dead, and had gone somewhere that she should not attempt to follow. She preferred her own beliefs. If John was indeed gone from this world, their souls might come together in another life. The only question was how long she would have to wait. The monk said his God was Love, but she could not understand how a God of love could allow such pain.
Stephen Franklin strode through the corridor, heading quickly towards the Ambassadorial wing. What Lennier had told him sounded serious, almost like Delenn was suicidal. If he was lucky, she just didn't understand what prolonged fasting could do to a human body. If he wasn't, well, he would have to find some way to get her to choose to live. He hoped he could connect with her. They didn't know each other very well, but he liked and respected her. Perhaps he could explain what had happened on his walkabout. His faith was different from hers, but they had similar concepts of the soul and a similar reverence for life. Stephen had been surprised at her reaction to the Captain's fate. Apparently she felt some responsibility for the Captain's fate. While he knew they had become close, this seemed excessive. Still, he'd never seen Lennier so worried. Somehow, he had to make her see that life was a gift. Being alive was enough; everything else was negotiable.
I will follow you…
She staggered, and almost fell on her way to the bathroom. Her muscles were weak and had begun to fail her at times. Still, she was fine. Stephen was wrong; she could withstand much more fasting. It didn't matter in any case, she had to continue making atonement. The crushing burden of guilt she still felt told her she had not yet done enough. Lennier had talked to her of duty, Stephen of her cause. Her cause was dead. She had killed her cause as thoroughly as she had killed her love. Her failure would lead to the deaths of millions, but what she mourned most was the loss of one man. That in itself was shameful; that she should be concerned with her personal loss when so many faced destruction at the hands of the enemy.
The first time she had seen John, she had known him to be the leader they sought to fight this war. It was her responsibility to slowly reveal to him the plans they had laid, the forces they had gathered, the abilities of their enemy. Instead she found herself torn in two by opposing roles, as ally and as lover. One role required she keep secrets and work behind the scenes, revealing only what he needed to know at the time. The other demanded she trust him with the truth, and let him make his own decisions. But her love also made her afraid, afraid to lose him to the truth. She should have loved him less, and trusted him more. Now all she wanted was to follow wherever he had gone, and be with him, however she could.
Susan sat behind the Captain's desk, feeling both uncomfortable and unhappy. Stephen sat opposite her, turning the identicard in his hand over and over, not meeting her eyes. The doctor must be wishing she hadn't asked him this favor, but it had to be done. Someone had to go through the Captain's things, make decisions, and pack up his personal items to eventually send on to his family.
Stephen had told her a little about Delenn's state of mind, and she'd been both saddened and angered by his story. There was still a station to defend, and it was pretty clear the League was pulling out. Delenn could help with that; maybe convince more of them to stay. No one knew what the Minbari cruisers protecting them from Clarke's forces would do if something happened to Delenn, and what about the Rangers? She had commanded them in battle, but would they accept her authority with the backing of Sheridan or Delenn? Damnit, she needed all help she could get in this fight! There had to be a way to snap Delenn out of this self-destructive spiral. She asked Stephen to do his best to help, and to let her know if there was anything she could do. As Stephen nodded and left, Susan sighed heavily. The only one who could lead Delenn back was John. And, sadly, he wasn't coming back to do it.
Into the Dark.
The walls of her quarters felt like they were closing in on her. It seemed to be growing dark, and yet it was daylight, or what passed for it in this unnatural place. She had lived on ships or stations for most of her adult life. Her trips back to Minbar often kept her in council chambers, conference rooms, or temples. When was the last time she had walked outside, on a planet's surface? John had often complained about the same thing. He had told her of places he would take her to visit on Earth; his family's farm, oceans, and forests. She smiled at the memory, but her smile faltered as she returned to the present.
Where had he died--on Z'ha'dhum's dead surface, or deep underground? She would have wept at the thought he would never again see the sun, but she had no tears left. They were gone, her eyes as dry and parched as that dreadful place. The com unit sounded loud and harsh in her ears. It was Stephen, asking her to meet him in John's quarters. Politeness and respect required that she honor the doctor's summons, but she dreaded it. The last time she had been in those rooms was the night that Anna had returned. She didn't know if anyone had cleaned up the shards of glass from the snow globe that she had broken. So many things had been broken that night.
Franklin paced around the living room of the Captain's quarters. Susan had given him the Captain's personal lock codes; the keys to access his personal logs and confidential communications for downloading and storage. He thought he'd found something to help Delenn, a log entry that might do the trick. He certainly hoped so. It had been extremely awkward going through the man's personal diary, looking for inspiration. It had surprised him how much affection had grown up between the Captain and the Ambassador.
Everyone had known or suspected that something was going on, but no one was sure how deep it went. They were both intensely private people. Stephen had come to appreciate the depth of the bond that had formed between the two, and against what odds. Human and Minbari; after all the two races had been through, it was a miracle the two of them had found one another. In a way, it fit into his belief that all philosophies had underlying ideas in common. Love was surely one of the basics. All he could do was show her the entry, and hope it would help her make the right choice.
She stood entranced in front of the screen. He was right there; so real, and so happy. She could almost feel his presence. His words burned deep into her soul, and showed her a way out of the darkness into which she had fallen. When the entry ended, she reached up to touch his dear face once more, but her fingers felt only the cold slickness of the monitor screen. His voice echoed in her head, along with others more recent. She could hear them now, where she couldn't before.' Stay with me.' 'God is Love.' 'Help me fight.' 'Choose to live.' Her choice was clear, and it was made. She would turn once more from the darkness, and enter into the light.