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Delenn of Mir and John Sheridan
Chapter 1: 4 Months of Age
One can liken it to the sound of fifty exploding bombs, one hundred fingernails scratching a chalkboard, thirty pounds of shattering glass, or the howl of a pack of hungry hyenas on the hunt. But nothing, nothing in the whole universe compares to the screeching cries of a four-month old baby.
"Good God, Delenn, I'll not survive another night like this," John Sheridan yelled, covering his head with his pillow.
His son's cries reverberated through the bedchamber, a siren bellowing in the midnight air alerting all to its emergency state.
Angry, Sheridan threw off the covers and almost fell out of bed, his body weak from lack of sleep and mental exhaustion. Catching himself on the edge of the bed, he stood fully, turned on the lamp on his nightstand, and peered across the room, red eyes catching a familiar form in the moonlight.
"God, honey, you look as bad as I feel," Sheridan said, taking in the disheveled appearance of his wife.
"He won't stop crying, John, and I don't know why," Delenn said, her voice pitched abnormally high. "I fed him, changed him, sang to him, patted his back, rubbed his tummy, rocked him, talked to him—twice—and nothing works."
Delenn ran a trembling hand through her tousled hair and looked down at the child whose legs and arms were flailing about, tongue protruding from his mouth, and eyes full of tears. "Something must be wrong with him. Perhaps it was something I ate when I was pregnant, John, perhaps I was poisoned and it only affected David."
"Delenn, you know you weren't poisoned," he said, walking across the bedroom and to his wife. Sheridan also looked upon their child who, God help him, reminded John of a little devil sans the red skin and tail. "You're just tired, as am I, and David probably is as well."
Delenn reached into the crib and picked up her out-of-control child, and handed him to his father. "John, I had no idea Human babies could be so fussy and unruly."
Sheridan snorted and lifted his son to his shoulder, wincing when the sound of unrelenting crying echoed loudly in his right ear. "Why is it, Delenn, whenever David throws a temper tantrum, cries like a banshee, or refuses to go to sleep, he's 'my child,' or a 'Human baby,' but when he plays the perfect infant he suddenly becomes a 'child of Valen?'"
Delenn gave her husband a glare that would have melted most men, but John Sheridan was too tired, too irritated . . . just too everything to be cowed. In fact, they both were, having relegated most things in their lives to David, including sleeping and eating, even intimacy, the slightest thought of which quickly faded when little David started with the water works or refused to go to sleep anywhere but in his parents' bed.
"I need to meditate, John, and I haven't been able to do so in weeks. I can't go on like this. No one warned me babies could be so . . . so . . . like this," she finished in exasperation, pointing to the child who seemed to have an endless supply of tears and the roar of a mountain lion. "He's never pleased and, yes, I think it's because of his Human DNA. He's so much like you, can't stay still or quiet for a moment. And while that character trait serves you well as an adult, and is one of the things I love most about you, it is intolerable in a child who has no outlet for his energy other than disturbing the universe with his constant weeping."
Sheridan looked at his wife, really looked at her, realizing how much her life had changed over the last few years. She wasn't Human, in spite of her appearance. Intellectually Sheridan knew this to be the case, but she got along well with Humans, spoke English flawlessly, and adapted so well to change that Sheridan often forgot how hard she had to work to mesh all the different cultures that lived in and around her.
And whether Sheridan wanted to admit it or not, she was probably right about David, for he'd seen Minbari parents at the park with their children and none of the children his age acted like his son. To John, David was just being a baby . . . a normal Human baby. And as much as the constant whining and crying got to him, he really had no clue as to how such behavior was affecting a woman who could sit hours by herself and not feel alone or lonely but who now had not a moment's silence in her life.
Delenn needed silence. She needed time to herself, to think, to be alone without the demands of motherhood, and yes, without the demands of having an overactive, impatient husband underfoot.
Sheridan groped around in David's crib until he found the elusive pacifier and placed it in the child's whimpering mouth, silencing him. It was temporary, as everything was with David, but it was enough for now.
"Why don't you get dressed, Delenn, and go to Temple. I'll call for one of the house guards to escort you."
"It's the middle of the night, John."
"You say that like it's 7-11 and closes after midnight."
"Seven . . . what, John?" she questioned and shook her head. "Never mind, I'm really not in the mood to learn another Human saying. I think I've exhausted my thesaurus for one lifetime."
Sheridan gave his wife a thoughtful look. She was out of sorts, definitely not herself. He closed the short distance between them and kissed her forehead like he often did David. "I mean the Temple never closes. You need to get out of this house and recharge your batteries, Delenn, you're running on empty and giving off fumes."
"Is that your tactless way of saying I'm being grumpy, a grouch?"
Tread softly, John, don't let the small stature and soft voice fool you.
"I just mean that you're tired and need a break from me and the baby. Go to Temple," he said, grabbing her hand and walking her towards her closet, "and meditate in peace. We'll be here when you get back."
"I can't just leave you here when he's like this, John," Delenn protested.
"You can and you will. Everyone needs a break, honey, and I have mine everyday when I go to work." And it was true, this was the small solace that kept John Sheridan, the new father, sane. But Delenn had yet to return to work full-time, having her reports brought to her and scheduling meetings at their home. She wasn't quite ready to leave David with a nanny, but that decision was clearly taking its toll. Delenn needed to find a balance, and if she wasn't able to find it for herself, then John would just have to help her, whether she wanted the help or not.
"Jooohn." This was the closest Delenn ever came to a whine and Sheridan always recognized it for what it was—a very weak defense and ultimate concession.
"I'll walk David around the house awhile and you get dressed, Delenn. I mean it," he said at her reluctant expression.
Her small huff and roll of the eyes were her final concessions. He'd won. Won? Being left to defend oneself against a colicky baby could never be considered a win. David didn't really have colic, Sheridan had to remind himself on a daily basis, but it would have been convenient to have a nice, simple medical excuse for why his son cried so much and so loudly. Then again, Sheridan reasoned, his wife would have probably blamed that on the child's Human DNA as well because apparently, Sheridan learned from the pediatrician, Minbari babies don't get colic.
Damn, perfectly quiet Minbari babies with their tiny, short-lived wails. Those aren't real babies. Real babies let it loose, show their character, don' take stuff from the guy in the next crib. No wonder Delenn's ears can't bear the sound, Minbari are too damn perfectly quiet and boring. John laughed then. Hell, who am I fooling? I can't bear it either and neither could most Human women.
Sheridan moved his son from his shoulder to cradle him in the crook of his arm, thankful the pacifier was holding its own. "You're gonna have to let your mother get some rest, young man, or the two of us are gonna have it to have a little talk. She was my wife before she became your mother and I'd like her back—sane please."
"Okay, John, I'm ready to go," Delenn said upon entering the living room. "Are you sure about this? I can—''
"I'm positive, honey. You need this and I can do more to pull my weight, especially in the evenings. Besides it'll give us some time to start that father-son bonding."
Not giving Delenn an opportunity to think of an excuse not to leave, John quickly buzzed for a guard. Within a minute, a knock was heard at the front door. ""That will be for you, Delenn. Go to Temple, meditate, pray, and don't worry about us."
Sheridan gave her a gentle kiss to the cheek. "Take time for yourself, honey, you need it. You can't go on without rejuvenating your mind, body, and soul. And prayer and meditation for you is like sunlight to plants, essential for a healthy, long life. Now go," he said, playfully swatting her on her bottom and shooing her out the door.
"Now," Sheridan said, staring down at his son, "how about that talk."
Three hours later, Delenn entered her bedchamber, beating the sun home before it welcomed the new day with its refreshing rays of warmth and hope. She cautiously walked to David's crib, finding him asleep surrounded by stuffed animals, baby rings and mirrors, two empty bottles of breast milk, and three pacifiers attached to his nightshirt, one of which was actually in his mouth.
She quietly undressed and joined her husband in bed. She fit her small body in her spot, the one between John's left shoulder and thigh, allowing them to spoon as they slept.
"How was Temple?" a sleepy voice asked.
"Good. I'll be home today by six and I expect you out the door by six thirty."
Delenn started to turn in his arms but he held her fast, pulling her even closer to him. "I know you love David, Delenn, and you're a wonderful mother, don't ever doubt that. But you're still Delenn of Mir, the person, the woman, don't ever forget that. Being a wife and mother are simply two more titles to add to the ones you've accumulated over the years, and while each changes you in some way, you can't forget your essence."
"You think I've forgotten my essence?"
"I think you're a new mother and I'm a new father and we have to both get used to the new clothes we wear."
"I know that metaphor, John."
"Good, because I thought you were going to remind me that your thesaurus was full."
"Anyway, honey, I think our new clothes are too big for us right now and damn uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel like a dwarf in them. But eventually, the longer I wear them, the more I'll grow and they'll fit me better and better. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you, Delenn?"
"That you need a better tailor."
"Humor? So, the Temple did help."
"Yes, John, and so are you in your special Human way. Only a Human would think of comparing parenthood to clothing." She paused thoughtfully then asked, "Will the clothes ever fit perfectly, John, the way clothes should."
"No, honey, because the clothes and the wearer are constantly changing, growing. But the fit will getter better and won't chafe as much."
Delenn thought about the metaphor for quite some time before she spoke again. "So, the crying David is like uncomfortably big, itchy clothing that have replaced my predictably soft, tailor-made silk robes."
"And I will grow into them with time, experience, and patience."
"But I mustn't lose myself in the process because my personhood is just as important as motherhood."
Delenn thought again, and then said, "And I thought I was the one who went to Temple and gained wisdom."
Sheridan gave a soft laugh, not wanting to wake the devil. "Delenn, sweetheart, I've only said to you what you've told me time and time again."
"I'm pretty sure I've never used a clothing analogy to make a point."
"Well . . . umm, no, that would be all me. But we've talked about transitions in life and the spiritual nature of them. You're the best philosophy teacher I've ever had."
"You once told me you hated college philosophy."
"True, but you weren't my teacher."
"Flattery too, John, what is a Minbari to do?"
"Go to sleep and let her Human husband take care of her for a change."
"Sleep sounds like an excellent idea, but what about David?"
"You just let me handle that. I had a little talk with our son."
"You did?" she asked, her voice slipping, body relaxing into his half embrace.
"I did and I laid down the law to him."
"The law?" Another two-word question, she was fading fast.
"Yes, honey, I'll tell you all about it later. Now, go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake."
No more questions, not even two-word ones followed. Silence. Yes, silence in the Sheridan household. A miracle? The sun rose, illuminating the new day with new hope and new possibilities. Perhaps it wasn't a miracle after all but the beginning.