Note: The title is from Auden's "The More Loving One."

For rivendellrose in the fandom_stocking fest.


I. William Carlos Williams, "A Love Song"
What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
Yet—
I lie here thinking of you.

He's always thought she would be blonde.

It's due to a picture book version of Rapunzel, encountered early in childhood, in which the unremembered artist had drawn the girl with a long, blonde braid. Something in him imprinted on her, on the color of her hair, and from then on he's just assumed the woman he rescued from some metaphorical tower (for of course he'd imprinted on that too) would wear it as well.

Listening to Susan Ivanova tell them in breathtaking detail about all the things she's not actually supposed to know yet, he thinks he is definitely developing an appreciation for brunettes who can do their own rescuing.

II. Emily Dickinson, "My River runs to thee"
My River runs to thee—
Blue Sea! Wilt welcome me?
My River wait reply—
Oh Sea—look graciously—
I'll fetch thee Brooks
From spotted nook—
Say—Sea—Take Me!

Stephen has given up on talking him out of his pursuit of Susan, and now is trying to give him advice on how to appeal to her. "Give her space. You know, instead of pestering her until she yells at you, ask once if she wants to have dinner or something, and then leave her alone for a week."

Stephen apparently doesn't realize that asking him to leave Susan alone for a week is akin to asking a plant to go without sunlight or a fish without water. He supposes he could try, though. It'll be like a chess game, giving up something in order to win at the end.

"She doesn't like to be the center of attention, so things like that stunt you pulled with the eggs are a bad idea."

Susan is always going to be the center of his attention, but yes, more private ways of showing it might be useful. If he's lucky, she might even be willing to acknowledge she appreciates them, like that time he made her laugh with his organizational chart.

"And whatever you do, don't be yourself. Be a calmer, saner version of yourself."

"You don't think I'm sane?"

Stephen just gives him a look.

III. Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Recuerdo"
We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere.

"Well," he says to her on the way out of a war council meeting that lasted through dinner. "I'm starved. Care to join me for a late supper?"

She looks tempted, but doesn't yet take the bait. "I should really put together the information the Captain wants to broadcast about refugee worlds."

"Won't you be able to think more clearly once you've eaten?"

She shrugs. "I've got some leftovers. I'll be fine."

This is really not going at all how he'd planned. "There's a new Indian restaurant in the Zocalo. Doesn't that sound better than leftovers? Tandoori chicken...samosas...piping hot naan..." He's playing dirty and he knows it. But it seems to be working.

Susan sighs. Apparently her stomach has temporarily allied itself with him. "All right."

With some effort, he manages not to bounce. But he can't keep the grin off his face.

She glares at him. "This isn't a date."

"Never said it was." Saying and thinking, of course, being entirely separate things...

"I mean it. This is two people sharing a meal. Nothing more."

"Absolutely," he agrees, looking very serious.

She glares at him again for good measure, but starts walking toward the transport tube. He follows, a rather jaunty spring in his step. All right, so it isn't a date. But it isn't nothing, and not-nothing can turn into something if one is sufficiently diligent. And he's always been praised for his persistence.

IV. Ezra Pound, "A Girl"
The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast—
Downward,
The branches grow out of me, like arms.

He knows he's beyond hope when she curses at him in a mixture of ungrammatical Minbari and what he can only assume is absolutely filthy Russian, and he sort of wishes she'd continue just so he can hear her voice.

The Minbari have a word for this, actually: fel'sha, love-steeped. When they say it, they usually mean that someone's being a fool, but he rather likes the image; as leaves change hot water into a drink fit for gods, so knowing Susan has changed him. And as there is no going back to plain water once tea has been brewed, so he will never be the same. Tea will always be tea, and he will always be someone who has loved Susan Ivanova, the signs and markers stamped indelibly on his heart.

V. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Sonnet XLIII"
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach...
I shall but love thee better after death.

As it turns out, the tower he dreamed of as a child is not an edifice of stone or brick. Rather, it is a bed in Babylon 5's infirmary. He's always wanted to be useful to her, a knight in shining armor chasing dragons and grails to win her favor, even if she does wear her own armor, and is perfectly capable of fighting dragons and finding grails on her own.

He's rational enough to know that she's going to hate him when she wakes up, but this way, at least she will wake up. He can give her that much, at least.

He looks at her for a long moment, one of the last he will have with her. What wouldn't he give to have more.

I have drunk deep of love and near my fill, but I would gaze upon her still.

He places his arms in the machine.