Sheridan had awakened about twenty minutes earlier, and had spent the time watching Delenn sleep. She was curled up against him, her head on his shoulder, an arm and a leg slung across his body. Her dark hair was spread all around her like a nimbus, and he drew his fingers through it, knowing it wouldn't wake her up. He'd learned a great deal about his new wife the last few weeks, almost all of it contrary to what he had imagined. He had figured her to be the kind of person to wake up naturally, no need for an alarm or assistance. She would climb out of bed ready to go, wide awake and prepared to face the day with a spring in her step.
The crystal pyramid on her bedside table glowed yellow, and let out a mellow chime. Delenn groaned into his shoulder, waved her hand vaguely in the air above his chest - a good two feet away from the pyramid - and buried her face more securely against him. With an inward chuckle, Sheridan waved the chime off himself. He had another ten minutes to watch her, to run his hand up and down her smooth back, to plan what they would do when she finally woke up.
The chime rang again. This time she rolled away from him, saying something he couldn't decipher - it might have been in English, it might not have been. She grabbed the covers and pulled them up over her shoulders, burrowing down into the bed. The first time she had continued to sleep past the second alarm, he had shook her awake, afraid that she would sleep in past her first meeting. She'd snarled at him, flinging aside the covers and marching into the head, muttering darkly in Adronato under her breath. There had been no sex that morning. Now he knew that she had a system, a system which involved three chimes of her alarm before she finally got out of bed. Sheridan supposed at some point he would get used to it, but now it was still a novelty, to watch her struggle to wake up like some kind of moody teenager.
The chime sounded out for the third time. She rolled onto her back, stretching her arms over her head. Sheridan drank in the sight of her, bringing a hand up and gently rubbing her stomach. He had to tread carefully; sometimes she was too groggy and didn't like him putting the moves on her when she still wasn't quite sure where she was. This morning, though, she smiled at his touch, finally opening those big gray eyes he loved so much.
"Hi," he said, in no hurry. She set her third chime to go off a full hour before she needed to be anywhere, to give herself plenty of time. She put a hand on the top of his head, sliding it down to the side of his face, and then she closed her eyes again. "You want me to wake you up?" he asked, and she nodded. He loved every kind of sex with Delenn, but sleepy sex was near the top of the list. She was lovely and warm and pliant, and as he kissed her and stroked her and made love to her, she opened up beneath him like a flower turning its face to the sun. By the time they finished, she was awake, and he was ready to go back to sleep. Delenn got into the shower, and Sheridan thought for a second about joining her; he ended up rolling over and dozing. He didn't hear her come out of the shower and get dressed. She yanked the covers off him, so he did hear her say "Wake up, John!" in a bright, cheery voice. She was lucky he was such a nice guy.
He'd expected her to be conservative in bed. Not a prude - she'd certainly enjoyed exploring and being explored during the Shan'fal (as always, Sheridan shuddered to remember it) - but conservative nonetheless. He'd expected her to prefer nice, vanilla missionary; he'd expected to have to introduce her to different positions with reticence on her part; he'd expected plenty of nights when he wanted sex and she begged off.
He did not expect her to bring toys to their quarters and enthusiastically show him how to use them. He did not expect her to direct their activities in bed like she ran the docking bays. (I'll put my legs here, you grab that pillow and put it there; wait a minute - I mean it, John, quit moving; tilt the bed back - not that much; I watched this on the adult channel last night, John, this is what I want to do, stop pouting and help me secure this around my hips.) He did not expect her to pull him into secluded corners in the garden. He did not expect her to drop to her knees in the transport tube.
Sheridan finally wrapped his mind around it, and thought he had her figured out. Which was why he couldn't understand the frown on her face as she held out the lingerie he'd bought her as though it were something rotting and distasteful.
"You don't want to wear them?"
"They look silly. I would look silly."
"You would look amazing. Gorgeous. Perfect."
"I do not already look like that?"
"Is that a trick question?"
"John, if you desire to look at my breasts, simply tell me so and I will undress for you."
"I want to look at your breasts covered in wispy black lace."
She looked at him then, eyes on his, no blinking. Was she thinking about it? Was she going to give in?
"Fine. I will wear your ineffective clothing. After I have the chance to look at your penis covered in wispy black lace."
Sheridan took the lingerie back from her and stuffed it into a drawer. He would table the lingerie discussion till later. He hoped she would forget about it - he really didn't feel like coming home some day to find a lacy black thong waiting for him.
Delenn could eat like a fucking horse. Not all of the time, not even most of the time. But once every three months or so she would steadily eat throughout the entire day, meal following meal in close succession, portions that made even his eyes bug out.
In most respects, she was Human. The bone crest and the lack of eyebrows made her look more Minbari than she actually was any more. He hadn't realized just how Human she was until the first time they'd had to deal with her period. She had been very matter-of-fact about it. (I cannot believe you are being so squeamish about this. Please just get a towel and spread it out on the bed.) Sheridan wasn't sure why, but the fact that she menstruated like every other woman he'd ever been with sort of boggled him. He'd been expecting to deal with some incompatibility issues. He knew, from what little literature there was on the subject, that Minbari reproduced sexually, too, and that the basic mechanics were the same. Still, it was a surprise - pleasant, no mistake - that everything worked just as it should.
So she was mostly Human, except for this metabolism thing. She'd told him the Minbari word for it. It kind of sounded like monkey, though he was sure that wasn't even close to the actual word. He was too embarrassed to ask her to repeat it, after he'd asked her and asked her about five times in a row when she had first told him about it. That had been a weird day. She had been cooking before he'd even got up, and he didn't realize that anything was strange at first, since he'd stumbled into the main room after she'd mostly finished eating that first meal. Then she'd ate something else. And then something else.
"Delenn? Are you okay?"
"Hmm?" She looked up at him, busily cutting up the Minbari equivalent of chicken, still working on a grain and fruit salad.
"You're just...eating a whole lot."
"Today is my monkey." (That was not what she had actually said, but goddamn it, that was the only way he could hear it, now.) Sheridan knew he just stared at her like she'd said she was a monkey, and she calmly pulled up a computer entry on the topic. He'd read it, every now and then turning to peer at her as she continued to eat. Only female Minbari experienced it, and it was tied to their reproductive cycles.
"Yes, I menstruate now. Dr. Franklin is not sure why I continue to have the monkey. It does not appear to have anything to do with my current reproductive cycle. A vestige, he called it."
"Are you starving or something?"
"I am quite hungry." He'd just watched her then. It was mesmerizing; she was such a goddamned tiny thing, and she just kept shoving it in, bite after bite. Finally she had swatted him away and made him leave her alone.
Today was her second monkey since they'd been married, and Sheridan had prepared. He'd bought all her favorite foods, and put in orders in half a dozen different restaurants and food stalls for things they couldn't really make in their little kitchen. He'd stockpiled away some chocolates and some very expensive Minbari sweet and that strange Centauri fruit he thought smelled like feet but she really liked. He made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which was one of three things he could actually cook.
He'd set the alarm early and slipped out of bed before she woke up. (Not difficult; she was sprawled over eighty percent of it, her mouth open, and she'd look dead if it weren't for the steady rise and fall of her chest.) He made a big breakfast - she hated eggs, but she liked bacon and pancakes, and he cooked up a ton of both. (Numbers two and three - he felt like an absolute genius.) Delenn was just sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when he brought in the breakfast tray, and the look of surprise and gratitude on her face pierced him through.
"Real maple syrup. And butter. You're expensive to keep, I'll have you know."
She let him feed her, smiling at him, and he knew he was going to get laid like a son of a bitch as soon as this day was over. At first, she insisted he have every fourth or fifth bite; after her monkey really set in, it turned into every ninth or tenth. She finished up and then kissed him, a kiss that tasted like maple syrup and bacon, and he laughed into her mouth.
"You taste like home."
It was the third anniversary of their first date. They'd had to work - there was no getting around that - but he'd set aside the evening. He took her out to dinner at the Fresh Air, remembering that first dinner. Seeing her in that tight black dress, her hair pinned up, pretty earrings dangling. She'd taken his breath away, and looking back, Sheridan thought that dinner had been the point of no return. He'd never gotten her fully out of his thoughts after that, though at first he'd tried. Now he couldn't imagine any other existence, didn't even want to.
Delenn was wearing another black dress tonight, the one she had worn last year before she'd gone back to Minbar for something apparently very serious and secret. Bare shoulders and arms, lovely décolletage. She was so beautiful, so very beautiful, and sometimes Sheridan couldn't figure out what the hell she was doing with him.
A nice, leisurely stroll through the gardens. Back to her quarters, which he'd filled with those tiny white flowers that looked like wild daisies to him, but were her favorite. He made love to her, and he knew he was the luckiest man to ever live. Now she was idly kissing his chest, and he rolled her over, leaned up on an elbow to look down at her.
He had practiced. It would have been nice if he had been able to rehearse with another Minbari, but the only one he knew that well was Lennier, who wasn't on-station. Even if he had been, Sheridan couldn't have practiced these words with Lennier, who he suspected would like to say some of them to Delenn himself. Delenn was looking up at him with curious but patient eyes, and he took a deep breath. He knew his accent was going to be atrocious, but he hoped that in this case, the thought would count.
"I love you. I love you more every day. Nothing in my life means more to me than you, and I would not be able to exist if you were not in my life. There is nothing I would not do for you. You complete me."
She had at first looked touched, overwhelmed. Her eyes had glistened with tears. And then at the end her brow lifted and she bit her lips. Sheridan thought for a second that maybe he'd really pulled it off. Her chin was quivering. Was she going to cry?
No. She was going to laugh. She tried hard, he could see that she tried really hard, but she finally couldn't hold it in. She clapped a hand over her mouth but even that didn't do any good. She put her head back and laughed. There were tears rolling down her cheeks, all right, but they weren't "that is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me, thank you, John" tears.
She choked something out then. It sounded like murder. And if he'd thought she was laughing hard before, now she was practically hysterical. Sheridan was hurt for a minute or so, but then he couldn't help but laugh along with her, even though he still didn't know what she was laughing about. His own laughter died down, but hers kept going, so he just took in the view. It was a very nice view. He made a mental note for the next time the lingerie discussion came up to let her know that watching her tits shake as she giggled would have been even more entrancing had they been covered in an alluring layer of transparent silk.
Sheridan had expected them to have different tastes in humor. To expect anything else would have been ridiculous, considering that they came from different planets and cultures. He knew she probably wouldn't find The Three Stooges funny. (He had showed it to her anyway, of course.) He was a little more disappointed that she didn't think Rebo and Zooty were funny; except, of course, when they'd told the joke based on Minbari humor, where something was also a fish or whatever it was.
Then Sheridan got it. He'd said something wrong, and it had absolutely tickled her. Delenn rolled over, still hiccupping out little giggles, and gave him a big sloppy kiss. "I murder you, do I?" He loved her so much he thought his head would explode. "You murder me, too," she whispered, then kissed him like he'd never been kissed before.
Sheridan made a couple calls a few hours later to cancel all their morning meetings. He expected her to protest, but she just grinned up at him. They were going to have to have a talk about where she was allowed to put her mouth while he was trying to have a conversation on the link.