Setting/Timeline: Picks up at the very end of Season 5's And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder. Delenn has just given a lengthy monologue comparing life to the flame of a candle.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sheridan or Delenn, but I do own this story. Also, the very first spoken words (spoken by Delenn) are the last words of the episode and are used to set the scene. Those were most certainly, definitely, without a doubt written by JMS, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: About this story: 1) It's a one-shot; 2) It's about sex. More to the point, it's about David's conception, and 3) There is very little dialogue. However, I don't think it's graphic enough to qualify as a PWP. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, though.)
Meditations on Life as a Candle Flame
Looking back, neither of them would see it as an attempt to create life. They were simply looking for refuge in each other, in their love, in something that was assured and solid when so much was uncertain. But it was a strange, wonderful contrast that on the night that so many flames would be extinguished, the universe saw fit… to light one.
"So many candles will go out tonight, John. I wonder sometimes… if we can see anything at all." Delenn blinks against unshed tears as she feels her husband's arm come around her shoulders. His presence, his touch, is enough to break the floodgates – somehow she realizes then that he understands. He doesn't want to mourn. He doesn't want to fight. He doesn't want to bury more dead. He wants peace, and now that peace has shattered.
But did it shatter – like a dropped glass, fragmenting into a million pieces in an instant – or did it simply… break apart… because the artisan who crafted it left one tiny crack, thinking it perfect if just a little flawed, and not realizing that one flaw would grow and fracture and sprout veins and arteries until it eventually became the undoing of his greatest accomplishment? Could this have been stopped? "Does it matter?" she whispers aloud in response to her own question, and he pulls back to look at her with a slightly furrowed brow. But the break in the embrace is only momentary – he needs her to hold him up as much as she needs him, and soon his arm is back around her shoulders as if to give her a response. No. It doesn't matter at all.
For a long time, they sit silently, lost in their own thoughts, staring into the flame of the single candle. And then his arm drops lower on her waist; then he presses a reassuring kiss to the top of her head; then she looks up at him, and their eyes meet, and they both know they are thinking the same thing.
Tonight… is for peace. Tonight… is for proof, for a reminder, that though there be a million dead on the battlefield, from war can come the most unlikely of alliances, friendships… love… and life.
The Minbari don't use the term make love. Make life, they say instead. For a dying race, a race where fewer have been born each year for generations, it is perhaps less than apropos at first blush. But it is a hope, a wish for the creation of something which has the potential to be bigger and better than the ones who formed it. And in this, the Minbari have it right.
John stands first, and once he is on his feet he extends his hand down to his wife. Delenn takes it and uses it as leverage to stand to meet him, and once she is steady, he pulls her into a tender kiss. This exchange is familiar, comforting… but she senses the urgency behind his slow, gentle movements and isn't surprised when he breaks the kiss, takes her hand again, looks into her eyes with all of the passion he possesses and says, "Let me."
Let me. Let me hold something that I know will not break in my arms. Let me show you the kindness I couldn't last night, when I left you alone with your candle. Let me be with you, be part of you, so that we both feel stronger, if only for a little while.
She cannot deny him.
The candle still burns in the other room, but it is forgotten, at least for the moment. The time has come to reinforce the flame they share, like the candle they lit when they married onboard the White Star – two flames, made bigger and stronger when combined into one.
But there is more.
The time has come, the universe knows, to form a new flame, one that will take its first gasps tonight, and tomorrow, and in the days that follow, no matter how many other candles are extinguished in that time.
"Ha ni'tee." Make life. Barely a whisper as it passes her lips – permission… she does not mean it in the literal sense. She does not know. It's better that way.
They stand beside the bed, and he reaches up to push her robe back from her shoulders as he kisses her lips again. His tongue explores her mouth, soft, passionate, but urging hers to dance along, and she obliges. His hands skate up her arms from wrists to biceps in tandem, barely there, then gone again as he reaches between their bodies to let loose the small clasps at the front of her robe. One gentle nudge and her robe falls easily from her body to pool at her feet. She's naked underneath – John is not surprised. He's learned that there is something about nudity and meditation… he doesn't quite have it worked out yet… something about purity. It doesn't matter right now. He'll ask later.
He takes a step back from his wife to allow her to undress him, and she does, loosening the tie that holds his robe closed. She feels like this is a dream – can they possibly have chosen this moment, on the brink of war, to chase their passion? Yes. There is no better time. Now… is all we have. On this thought, she sighs and surrenders to the moment, to his touch and his warmth as he again takes possession of her mouth with his, the urgency more apparent now as he lowers them to the bed in a slow, smooth motion. He will not let it be anything less than gentle; he will not hurt her. He has never hurt her, not even the first time. She feels comfort, feels as though an empty part of her has been filled as he turns them slightly so that they can stretch out fully on the bed rather than fold over the edge of it, and then settles his weight on top of her. Through this process he never breaks the kiss, until they are positioned, and he wants – needs – to speak to her.
"A'fel E'." It takes her a moment to realize the words he has breathed against her lips before going to the well again were spoken in her native tongue. Fresh tears threaten. What a moment for this revelation – he has been learning to speak Minbari. And by this account, he is doing very well.
"I love you," Delenn whispers back the next time he breaks from her.
John can only nod at this silent understanding; she has taken his breath from him. He cannot form any more words, and so he shows her.
Delenn gasps, a pleasurable little sound that makes John smile as his kisses trail to her neck and his fingers delicately caress between her legs, first from without, and then from within, and she lets out a shuddering breath when he lowers his head further, seeking out a nipple with tongue and teeth. He releases it after a moment and looks up at her – her head is tilted back in pleasure, her back arched, and his fingers can tell she's ready for him. Sometimes, with her pliant and malleable beneath him like this, he would play and explore and tease until she cried out, until she begged him to fill her, to take her… but it's not about that tonight. It is about passion, about love, about comfort… about life. And so he brings his kisses back to her mouth, centers himself, and pushes into her, groaning against her lips and reaching beneath her to pull her body as close as he can, to give her as much of himself as he can.
"John…" her eyes are closed – not clenched tight, but almost as though they became so heavy that her lids finally fell forward entirely from their weight alone. He studies her face as he begins to move, then presses his forehead to hers, and she feels tiny kisses against her eyelids. In response, in love, in want and need, she tilts her head back again, exposing her throat to his mouth. There is a little hollow back and to the right of her windpipe that, with the right amount of teasing and pressure, brings her great pleasure.
John knows this. He understands. He seeks it out at her silent request and is rewarded almost instantly. Her knees draw up on either side of their bodies and she begins to move with him.
Delenn brings one hand down to the swell of his behind to squeeze and caress, while the fingers of the other are splayed across his back. She feels for the scars she knows are there - remnants, permanent reminders of a week in time they never talk about and a place they like to pretend the human race wasn't capable of constructing. She finds one below his left shoulder blade and traces it absently. The silver lining to the darkest of clouds – these scars are sensitive, and her touch makes him tremble. He increases his speed, changes an angle to go deeper still, and then she is lost, the pressure building, the pleasure threatening to consume them both.
He's panting now, swallowing gasps of air, and her hand slips from the scar and trails down to the small of his back. She bucks her hips up to meet him, and the passion is there, but the gentleness is gone for these last few desperate moments. The reasons for lighting this fire, the cold and the hopelessness, are temporarily forgotten, and all that matters is the moment and the feeling and the love…
"Come with me."
She nods and urges him faster, harder as they tumble toward mutual release. Come with me. The first time he had used this phrase, she had given him a puzzled look and asked, "Where are we going?" She almost laughs now, in spite of her current position, at the memory. Where are we going? Into the fire.
Fire had swallowed them that night, and fire swallows them now.
For John and Delenn, the moment is an eruption, a cataclysmic release of passion and emotion. It burns white-hot and wonderfully through her body first, and then his, and it consumes them entirely. In its aftermath, they hold each other tightly through the night, and they sleep better than they have in weeks, a final refuge, a last calm before a terrible storm.
But for the universe, it is something much smaller, something much more basic and fragile. On this night, from the all-consuming fire of The One, the universe would take one tiny, imperceptible spark and single it out from the rest to be nurtured and protected, sheltered from the storm until it grew into a brilliant, beautifully unique flame.
Looking back in the months and years to come, this was how both husband and wife would reflect on it. It was as if the universe was trying to prove to itself, to its inhabitants, that even if we are intent on destroying ourselves, higher powers will intervene where necessary to prove to us that the future will attend to itself. Life can begin anew even when surrounded by death; love can be reaffirmed even when everything else is falling apart. And each dancing candle flame, though they all grow to be unique and beautiful and different, begins the same – with one small, silent, unnoticed spark.