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Delenn of Mir and John Sheridan
Mine Until Tomorrow
"I'm not having this discussion with you," Delenn said, face contorted in an annoyed grimace, voice echoing the same emotion. "You're being ridiculous, John, and I wish you would just calm down and think rationally."
"Rationally?" Sheridan repeated, following his wife into their bedroom and slamming the door behind them. "Rationally?" he asked again, red faced and ticked.
Delenn went to her closet and swung the glass doors open, trying her best to stay her anger. John had been on a verbal rampage the entire trip home from the banquet.
"I should've knocked Chimir on his Warrior Caste ass. He thinks to seduce you to get your support for him on the Grey Council. He thinks he's charming and virile and . . ." John punched the closed door, the flesh no match for the durable wood. Blood sprung forth in a deep, vibrant red, oozing between the open slits between his knuckles.
"God damn it," John swore, pulling back his right hand to survey the damage.
Delenn ran to him then, quickly grabbing a towel from the master bathroom first.
"Let it be, Delenn," John growled when his wife took possession of his battered and bleeding hand.
"Let me see," Delenn commanded, her voice low but firm. She lightly wrapped the towel around John's knuckles, gently patting to absorb the blood. "You're acting like a complete maniac," she scolded. "Or perhaps jackass would be a more appropriate descriptor," she corrected, ignoring her husband's raised eyebrows at her uncharacteristic vocabulary choice. "And don't tell me I got it wrong because you've used that word enough times over the last seventeen years for me to know precisely the meaning."
To say Delenn was upset would be an understatement, to say she was concerned about her husband's state of mind would be as accurate and precise as threading yarn through the eye of a needle. This wasn't the first time John Sheridan had overreacted by what he perceived to be an insult.
"Delenn," John started, "Chimir was flirting with you. It was as clear as the nose on his face, which, by the way, I should've decked him in."
"John Sheridan, there will be no more talk of punching or decking, or any other form of fighting. This isn't like you," Delenn said, removing the towel to get a better look at his hand. "You're lucky, it doesn't appear to be so bad as to require stitches. A thorough cleansing, bandage, and ice should be all that is required."
Delenn stood, narrowed her eyes at her husband, and walked out of their bedroom, opening the door almost as forcefully as John had closed it. Sheridan said nothing, and for that, she was grateful. She hated his mood swings, and to her dismay, the occurrences between them had increased over the last six months.
Delenn moved into the kitchen, opened the refrigeration unit, and shoveled two handfuls of ice into a bowl. She closed the door and sighed. Sheridan had always been a leveled headed person. As a soldier, Captain of Babylon 5, and President of the Interstellar Alliance, he couldn't be anything but leveled headed. But something was going on with him and Delenn didn't know what.
Delenn made her way back to the bedroom, John still sitting on the bed, nursing his hand, frown firmly fixed and unwavering.
"I can't believe you called me a jackass," he complained, lifting his eyes to his wife's when she entered. "You never use such language, Delenn, and in defense of Chimir of all people."
Delenn sighed, indeed regretting her word choice, no matter how accurate or well deserved. "I apologize, John," she said genuinely, gently inserting his hand in the bowl of ice. "I was upset and I shouldn't have spoken to you the way I did." She paused then, looking down at him. "But," she said, returning frown for frown, "regardless of the word, the sentiment remains the same. I don't apologize for that part."
"What kind of apology is that, Delenn?"
"An honest one and the only one you'll receive." She stalked away from him then, returning to her closet. Delenn removed her outer and inner robes, replacing them with a lightweight, white lounging robe. She sat on the edge of the bed, rolled down and removed her stockings, all the while ignoring her brooding husband.
Still seething, John renewed his argument. "Chimir was flirting with you."
"Minbari don't flirt, John," Delenn answered with a note of annoyed finality in her tone.
Sheridan abruptly twisted to face his wife, nearly dropping the bowl of ice in his irritated state. "You got to be kidding me, right? I distinctively remember you flirting with me when we were aboard Babylon 5."
"I never flirted. I was simply being friendly, helpful. I needed to get to know you better, to make sure you were the one of prophecy," she said, giving him a haughty look.
Sheridan snorted. "Yeah, right, like the dinner in your quarters was my idea or the sexy black dress you wore when we went out that first time at the Fresh Aire was just an expression of your Minbari curiosity about Human fashion."
"Don't mock me, John, and don't presume to have known my mind or intentions back then. If I say I wasn't flirting then I wasn't." Delenn thought about it for a moment, moving to rest her back against the headboard. "I'm not even sure if I know how to flirt."
"Oh, you know, Delenn," John said, his frown giving way to the briefest of smiles. "All women know how to flirt. It's part of your genetic makeup or something." His frown returned as quickly as it had vanished. "And Chimir knows how to flirt as well. Sure, Minbari are more subtle than Humans and use rituals to justify their actions but the intention is the same."
Delenn pulled her lean legs to her chest, and gave John a long, considering look. "What's this really about, John?" she asked, her voice soft, placating.
"What's wrong is that I don't like other men hitting on my wife. I don't appreciate you being eyed as if you're a grade A piece of prime rib in a deli full of carnivores."
Even after so many years of marriage, Delenn still hadn't heard all of John's sayings and, like now, he could still pull a new one out of his hat and leave her stumped. Yet, she'd had much practice at unearthing the rose hidden in the weeds. And right now, John's garden was chock full of wildly growing weeds.
"Whatever Chimir did that upset you so, I'm sure he didn't mean it the way you took it. We've known each other for a very long time. He's a good friend. But you know that already, John. In fact, he's been here for dinner on several occasions and you never expressed any ill feelings towards him before now."
Delenn was taking a page out of her religious training, yielding and redirecting a strong force with a seemingly weaker one. She didn't want to fight with John, especially not when he was in an irrational frame of mind, not when she didn't understand the source of his anger.
"You're naïve, Delenn," John said, swinging his bad hand from the bowl of ice before he realized what he was doing. "You never notice such things. You think everyone is all good and light. Well, they aren't," he hissed, standing and placing the bowl on the nightstand on his side of the bed.
"I'm not naïve, John, I just don't agree with your assessment of Chimir. I would know if he or someone else was interested in me in a romantic way. Perhaps there is some kind of miscommunication going on and we simply need to think about it and figure it out."
Still yielding and reflecting his anger.
"Like with Lennier," he spat, whirling on her, face set in granite. "How long did it take you to figure that little one out? Hell, he damn near killed me before you admitted that he loved you. And before that, you just couldn't understand why he no longer wished to serve as your aide. No, Minbari may not flirt, Delenn, but they damn sure know how to squirm themselves into the lives of the person to whom their interested."
Prudence and strategy gave way to anger. Immovable force would meet immovable force.
Delenn moved so quickly that John barely registered her shift in position until she was standing squarely in front of him, thin finger poking him in the chest, chin lifted and set.
"Listen here, John J. Sheridan, you've been in a foul mood for the last six months, and I have no idea why. I've tried ignoring it and talking to you about it. Nothing works. You've just become angrier and more grumpy as the days go by, and frankly, I'm sick of it. This isn't like you and if you insist on continuing this paranoia and disrespectful behavior . . ."
Delenn trailed off, unwilling to issue the ultimatum she felt coming. In her husband's current mood, he would be just foolish enough to challenge her and she was feeling just stubborn enough to follow through with it. Instead, Delenn said, "We both need time to cool off before we say something we'll regret. You can stay here," she said, moving towards the bedroom door, "I'll sleep in the guest room for the night. Perhaps in the morning we can have a more dignified conversation without insults and name calling."
John's face fell the closer she moved to the door, his hands balling into fists.
Delenn opened the door only a few inches before she saw a pale hand with pink, swollen blotches push it back into place. Sheridan's hand rested on the door above Delenn's head, the front of his body pressed firmly against the back of hers, his hot breath coating her ear.
"I overheard him, Delenn," Sheridan said. "Six months ago I overheard Chimir ask your Uncle Calleen if you would consider having a Minbari after being mated so long to a Human, and if your caste would approve such a union. He said that since I was an Earthforce solider you clearly had no problem being married to a warrior."
Delenn stiffened at these words but Sheridan wasn't finished.
"He said in spite of your change, you were more Minbari in heart and soul than any other woman he'd ever met, including the women of his own caste." If possible, John leaned in even closer, his lips slightly brushing her ear. "Your uncle told him he didn't think you would mate yourself to anyone else and Chimir said, unlike me, he had plenty of time. And in three years the universe would take me, leaving you alone and mateless. 'Delenn of Mir of the Religious Caste, Delenn Sheridan will be alone and lonely. But she won't have to be forever, and once she emerges from the requisite year of mourning, I'll be there to show her how much more living there is to do.' And that my dear, naïve, Delenn, is an exact quote."
John pushed from the door and staggered to the bed, dropping his load like a drunk after hearing the final call. He looked old, Delenn thought when she turned to face him. So much older than he had only a few minutes ago, like he was aging right before her eyes. But, at least, she now knew the reason for his strange behavior. She thought knowing the source of John's anger would make her feel better, give her a better angle from which to deal with her husband. How foolish she had been. How terribly, terribly foolish.
Delenn joined her husband on the bed, sitting next to him and grasping his unharmed hand in her own. They sat like that for several long minutes, neither willing to fill the silence, an uncomfortable bubble of realization having settled over them.
It was true, John only had three more years left on his twenty-year life extension, but no more, just as Lorien had said. He was tired and felt even more so as the days, weeks, months, and years crept by. Now Sheridan felt like he was on a roller coaster, barreling down the track, making its final descent into oblivion. And the ride would soon be over, much quicker than he'd thought, the g-force hammering against his aging body.
Sheridan spared a sidelong glance at his wife, whose head was down, eyes closed, hand still fiercely gripping his own. She wasn't ready for the ride to end either, yet they both knew it was slowing, preparing to grind to its final halt and he would have to disembark, leaving her behind.
This thing with Chimir had been eating away at Sheridan for the last several months. But if he was honest with himself, he would admit that Chimir was simply an outlet for his own anger, fear, and depression. He was growing older, his hair thinner and grayer, and his stomach . . . well let's just say he'd had to use the services of a good Worker Caste seamstress over the years. Yet, Delenn, was still as beautiful and fit as when he'd first met her in the council room aboard Babylon 5. Sure, her hair wasn't as dark and vibrant as it once was, but she still took his breath away.
But John didn't begrudge Delenn her slow aging or fine, alluring features. In fact, he loved that about her. What did bother him was that other men could see what he saw. Everything about Delenn exuded intelligence, grace, dignity, strength, and beauty. Yet, John learned a long time ago, she could never see herself the way others did, especially men.
And while John rarely entertained such jealous thoughts before or cared much when he caught an ambassador giving Delenn an approving look, now he saw nothing but. And such recognition, under the circumstances, enraged him.
"I'm sorry, Delenn," Sheridan finally said, lifting her chin with his bruised hand.
Tears flooded her emerald eyes. She wasn't ready for this conversation. How could she be?
"No, it's me who should apologize, John. I thought you were being paranoid, seeing things that really didn't exist."
"I acted like a jackass, honey, a Neanderthal, damn near dragging you out of the banquet room before the function was over. Hell, I might as well hoisted you over my shoulder and beat my chest. You were right on that call."
He rubbed his thumb gently across her right cheek then lips. "You're an incredible woman, Delenn." John paused, nearly biting his tongue on his next words. The ones his selfish heart screamed at him to not utter. "Even with your Human DNA, honey, you'll live for a very long time, probably another four or five decades. I only have three years left. For Minbari, you'll be in your prime when I pass on," Sheridan said, voice cracking when the held tears dropped from Deleen's eyes. She knew where he was going with this, John realized.
Damn the Vorlons, Shadows, and Z'ha'dum. And damn me.
"You'll have to go on without me, Delenn, and I don't want you to spend the next fifty years by yourself."
"I won't be by myself, John, I'll have David," Delenn said, standing and walking away from him.
She moved towards the window, refusing to acknowledge the true meaning of her husband's words. Sheridan followed, viewing her stern but sad image in the window. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him.
"The thought of another man being this close to you," Sheridan whispered, stirring her hair with his breath, "makes me want to commit murder. When I heard Chimir offering for you, it took all of my self-control not to take a PPG to him. And the only thing I kept thinking was that he couldn't have you, you're mine and mine alone."
"Is that why you've been so angry these past few months?" Delenn asked, turning in her husband's arms, resting her head against his resilient shoulder.
"Yes and something else?"
John lifted her chin again, forcing her to meet his eyes.
"I didn't want to acknowledge how utterly selfish I was being," he said, leaning down and placing a warm, soft kiss on her lips. "I want you to be happy in those four or five decades you have left, Delenn, but I don't want you to find happiness in the arms of another man."
"I have no desire to marry anyone else, John, or take a lover," she reassured, initiating another kiss, a desperate one full of a wife's integrity and denial. "I can't imagine being with anyone other than you. I love you. I could never love another."
John knew she spoke the truth. He believed her, but she didn't understand. He did. He'd been through it before.
"When Anna died, a part of me died with her. Like you, I thought there would never be anyone else for me. And that was true for a long while . . ."
Delenn started shaking her head in protest, not allowing John to continue. "Don't, John," she pleaded. "Don't say such things. There will never be anyone else for me."
Sheridan saw the near panic in her face, her eyes glowing with resolution and despair.
"It's not the same. It just isn't."
It was exactly the same, and John knew it. Yes, what he felt for Anna was different than the love he had for Delenn. But it was love all the same. Loving Delenn didn't mean Anna ceased to occupy a special place in his heart and mind. A small, warm piece of her and their life together would always be a part of him. As he would always be a part of Delenn, but she couldn't see it, not now. But someday. John didn't want to think about that and clearly neither did Delenn.
"Okay, honey," he soothed, bringing her face to his own. "Enough talk for tonight. We still have plenty of time."
"I don't need time, John Sheridan. I know my mind and it won't change. I won't have Chimir or any other."
Sheridan simply smiled at his devoted wife. She was indeed naïve, and blessedly so, the selfish part of him pleased at her defiance.
"Come to bed, honey," Sheridan said, wrapping his long arm around her small waist and leading her away from the window and the bleakness of the late night sky and their conversation.
Sheridan undressed in silence, Delenn watching, studying him. He knew what she was doing, her rational mind battling her heart, considering his words, and the long years ahead of her without him. She grimaced, turned away from him, and hid herself beneath the improbable security of their covers.
He slid into bed, scooting until he was where he wanted to be. The perfect spot, body spooned against that of his wife's. Sheridan's left hand found Delenn's hip and his mouth her bare shoulder. He caressed both with slow, smooth, practiced movements, creating an old rhythm and a familiar heat.
"John," she said, her voice low and throaty.
"Shh, honey, no more talking, no more thinking, no more anger, no more fear. Let's just enjoy each other while we still can. Please, Delenn, I need that. I need you."
And he did, so very much. Sheridan didn't want to think about the future any more than Delenn.
And when they made love, it was slow, so heartbreakingly slow and exhaustingly delicious. John worshipped at Delenn's temple, whispering prayers, and bestowing gifts, hording her essence, her light, for the dark, lonely journey to come.
Though exhausted, Sheridan didn't sleep. No, he watched his wife, the rise and fall of her chest, the anguished expressions that marred her features, telling him she wasn't peacefully sleeping, unable to let go of her anxiety over his impending death, even in her dream state.
John moved her hair from her face and slowly, purposefully started to massage the edges of her bonecrest, helping her relax. Her tense body melted under his expert ministrations, taking on a more natural posture, her breathing growing deep and heavy.
He smiled at his wife and wrapped himself around her, using his left arm to pull Delenn close to him, claiming her as his. She was still his, he reminded himself. For the next three years and several beyond that, she would be only his in mind, heart, and body. But after that . . . well, life went on, even for the most loving and dedicated of spouses. John was sure Anna had forgiven him for finding love and happiness with someone else. And he could . . . would do the same for Delenn. But not now, not tonight, not yet. He still had time; they still had time. She was his, yes, his and his alone, for now, until many tomorrows.