Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski, and my amateur efforts probably can't do justice to his work.

"Never to Be Alone in the Dark" (1/?)
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova

Darkness surrounded her, and silence, and for a time she knew nothing else, until the darkness gave way to light, and she seemed to hover there at the edge of a doorway, in the grey space between life and death. Somewhere very far away she thought she heard a familiar voice scream her name. With that recognition an image formed in her mind's eye; A face she'd always tried to keep from her thoughts...and a name, a name she wished she could keep from thinking.

Marcus.

"Am I...dead?" Susan Ivanova asked, not knowing if anyone would answer her, not knowing if anyone or anything could.

"You stand between," said a voice from behind her, and she turned. The voice was familiar, but unexpected. Jeffrey Sinclair, garbed as a Ranger, with no special adornments upon his clothing, nothing save some air of quiet authority about him to mark him Entil'Zha and Ranger One. "You aren't dead yet, Susan, but you may be soon."

"Great," Ivanova replied. "Wonderful. Fabulous, even. Can I ask just one question? How the hell did this happen? I don't think I hit my head that hard..."

"It's not so much a matter of what you hit," Sinclair said, "as it is a matter of what hit you. Which is most of the forward bridge of a White Star, in case you're curious."

"Thanks," Ivanova replied. "So...are you dead?"

He laughed. "Susan, there is a part of me that was dead before you were ever born, dead before I was ever born."

"Rangers," Ivanova said, rolling her eyes skyward. "You're all crazy."

"Yes," he agreed. "We are. Some of us in a good way, though," Sinclair said. "If you regain consciousness, you might want to thank Marcus for digging you out. It probably only bought you a few hours more, but he means well, Susan. And he cares- a great deal."

That name again. And with it, another flash of the face, dark hair, pleasant features, eyes that were kind and yet held so very much pain- all of that, and thoughts, emotions, reminders she didn't want, things she didn't dare touch or feel, even once, even a little...Flashes of scrambled eggs, roses, and a chart based upon the Ottoman Empire. Shared laughter, just a second or two before horrifying news brought their world shattering down around them.

Sinclair said nothing, as if he saw what was going on inside her head and was letting her think it all out. Ivanova desperately wanted him to interrupt these thought processes, and knew somehow that he wasn't going to.

"Isn't this where you're supposed to say 'Come towards the light'?" Ivanova asked then, determined to break the silence herself, if he wouldn't.

Sinclair laughed again. "You will when it's your time. No one has to tell you to do it. It simply- is."

"Becoming Minbari has done wonders for your oration skills," she said. "Now I knew why the sight of you and Sheridan in the same room scared the hell out of me."

"Susan..."

"Yes?"

"We will meet again at the end of time, in the place where no shadows fall. But sometimes there are more pressing matters, things that can't wait. The Minbari taught me patience, but I also learned from them when it would not serve at all. This is one of those times."

He paused. The pause was long, and for a time Ivanova was tempted to break it as she had the last one, but decided instead to force him to speak as he'd done with her. After a time he did so.

"You cannot change today, and you cannot change tomorrow," said Sinclair, "but if you wish, you can change one small thing of yesterday."

"I don't understand," Ivanova said.

"I know. And there's only so much I can tell you- the rest, you're going to have to figure out on your own. You've got those hours Marcus gave you- you can use them or you can throw them away."

"Would you please," Ivanova asked, "stop saying his name? I don't want to hear it."

"I know that, too," Sinclair replied, "and that's part of the problem. Marcus cares for you, Susan, and if you weren't so stubborn, so determined not to take the risk of being hurt again, you would realize that you care for him, too."

"Marcus?" Ivanova asked with a short laugh. "Jeff, have you met Marcus? He's frustrating, annoying, arrogant, stubborn- and he never admits when he's wrong- never! He won't go away, he won't shut up-"

"Sound familiar?" he asked.

"No," she snapped. Then, more softly, "No... not possible. I can't-" She glared at him. "Damnit, Jeff, I think I loved Talia, and you see where it got me. You see what good it did me. None, absolutely none. Zip. Zero. Got it? I'm tired of trying, Jeff- I haven't got the strength for it. It's better just to let it go, to not care anymore."

"Except that you can't do that," Sinclair said. "You can try and hide it, you can try to pretend it doesn't exist- maybe on some level you can even believe that. But deep down you know the truth, and you can't escape it no matter how far you run. You're going to have to face it one of these days. And I think that day is today."

"Why?" she asked. "Why now? It's too late- even if you're right, it's too late."

"It's never too late."

"I'm dying! You said it yourself. I'm dying, and you're matchmaking."

"Even the dying have feelings, Susan. Sometimes they feel things more strongly then anybody else. Before he met you, Marcus was dying slowly, a piece at a time. You didn't stop that- I don't think anything can- but you did something a lot more important, even if you never knew it."

"What?" Ivanova asked. "What did I do?"

"You showed him that he wasn't alone- that neither of you were."

"Everyone's alone, Jeff. Especially me."

"You'd like to believe that, but it's not true. Marcus found the chinks in your armor- but you found the ones in his, too." Sinclair paused. "You could show him that the sacrifice was worth it, that the right thing was done. You could do it before you have a chance to doubt it. You'll have enough time to hate yourself for it later..."

"What?" Ivanova asked. "I don't-"

"I know," Sinclair said. "I know. You're hurt, tired, confused. You'd like me to shut up so you can get on with this process of dying, if that's what you're going to do. You want to rest, want it to be over. But you've got battles left to fight. Believe me or not as you choose, but...you do."

"Do I?" she asked.

"You have a destiny, Susan. To an extent we all do, but-" He shrugged. "Some are harder to face than others. Yours, I think you can manage- if you are strong enough and brave enough. I've never known you to lack for either of those things."

"So what do I do?" she asked.

"You do what you must, that's all I can tell you. I only ask one thing- that you do as your heart tells you. For this one day, don't second guess it, don't say no when what you really mean is yes. Look inside and follow your heart- wherever it leads."

"The thought of that scares the hell out of me, Jeff," Ivanova said.

"I know," Sinclair said. "It will hurt, I won't lie to you. It will hurt all the more because it is brief. But, Susan- only love can heal the wounds of the heart."

"Whose wounds?" she asked. "His, or mine?"

"Clever," Sinclair said. "And the answer is both, yours and his."

"I don't know how-" she began. "I don't even know if I can."

"You have only to try, and it's the trying that matters. Only love, Susan. Remember that. Only love..."

She nodded, slowly. "It's my choice, isn't it?"

"Yes," Sinclair said. "This is something you must decide to do, or not, as you think best. But if you do go back, know that what I said is true. You can't change what is or what will be, but you can change a bit of what was, maybe for the better." He paused. "You remember I spoke of hours? Well, you'll have four of them before the battle starts- between the time Marcus tells you to get some sleep and the time he wakes you up again just before the attack begins. You'll need to make good use of them; they're all you'll have."

"How-?"

"Oh, best not to ask that, Susan," Sinclair said with a laugh, "I don't understand the half of it myself, but as someone who's gone back in time much farther than yesterday, trust me, it can be done."

"Alright." Ivanova paused. "What are you offering me, Jeff? What is this? And what's the price?"

"The price is exactly as I said- that you can't change some things, no matter how much you want to."

"I don't believe the future is set," she protested. "I believe there are things we can change-"

"Yes," Sinclair agreed, "but others are set on the courses they will follow, and there's no dissuading them from these. It is nothing but a small fragment of a second chance- but it's yours if you want it."

"Yes. I'm probably out of my mind, but I want it." She shrugged. "Maybe it'll even do some good, who knows?"

Sinclair nodded. "Before, I would have said 'May Valen go with you'. But the fact is that where you're going, I can't follow. If your path leads you back here, this is where I'll be. If you are to die, you won't face it alone, that much I can promise you. Whatever happens, Susan, you will not face it alone."

"I guess it's got to be enough, doesn't it?" she asked, but it seemed he couldn't or wouldn't answer, and the world changed before her.

The darkness, the light, Sinclair, the door into beyond, all of it was gone in an instant. She opened her eyes, surprised they were closed, to find herself lying on one of those damned Minbari beds on the White Star. She started to reach for the mechanism that would tilt it back the way she felt a bed belonged, then remembered what had happened the last time she tried that, and, not being in the mood to be unceremoniously dumped onto the floor, dropped her hand to her side and decided to leave well enough alone. After a moment she folded her hands on her chest, and was aware suddenly that she had been here before.

Footsteps approached, and she saw Marcus pause at the doorway, looking at her. Ivanova let her eyes flutter closed, so that he would not see that she was awake, not yet, and listened to him come closer. She felt his hand brush across her face, and held very still, though her heart was beating faster, and she was amazed that the sound didn't seem to echo in his ears the way it did in hers.

Then he spoke. "You'll never know," Marcus said softly, and she heard his gasp of surprise as she opened her eyes.

Words formed in her mind - How long have I been out? -but she didn't say them, sensing this as a turning point, and realizing at the same time that those words were not the ones she wanted to say. "Marcus?" Ivanova said.

He recovered quickly, and made a valiant effort to cover for himself. "You've been asleep about three hours. I wish it could've been more, but-"

"Marcus." Only his name, and nothing more, but the way she said it this second time made him look at her, really look at her. Marcus met her eyes and was then unable to look away. It was all Ivanova could do not to smile. So far, so good, she thought.

"Susan, I-"

"There's something I have to do, while I still can. I've got time, but I don't know how much." Four hours...and he said I'd slept for three. An hour, maybe a bit less, she thought. I need to do this before I lose my nerve, before I wake up and realize that I'm crazy to even think... I know I'm going to get it all wrong- I always seem to get it wrong, somehow. "You thought I would never know, but you're wrong. I know, but I'm- I'm afraid and I'm stubborn, Marcus, and there are things I haven't wanted to face. Sometimes it's a hell of a lot easier not to feel, but that's something I can't do anymore. You can only hold onto apathy for so long before it's either got to give way to something else, or you let it destroy you."

Ivanova paused, took a deep breath- and reached up to draw him towards her. Marcus gasped in surprise, but went willingly where she led. Their lips met in a kiss soft as silk, and Marcus wrapped his arms around her, holding her as he had always wanted to, holding her as he had in his dreams- but she was solid in his arms now, not the ethereal apparition that had always before seemed to slip from his grasp, even in visions and darkness.

The kiss was everything he had ever dreamed it would be, and more. Behind it he felt her strength, the warrior's heart and the beautiful soul she had seemed never to know she had. And with that, he felt something he had never thought he would- he felt Susan Ivanova letting go, dropping her walls and letting go, holding nothing back. He saw her true face, saw that she was everything he had ever believed her to be, and so much more, and Marcus Cole smiled as he held her in his arms.

She pulled away at last, and smiled. The smile was brilliant, dazzling. Beautiful. "You drive me crazy, Marcus, do you know that? You're arrogant, obnoxious, annoying-"

"-Stubborn, irritating, and infuriating? I do hope I haven't left anything out," Marcus finished for her. "The same could be said for you, you know. We're a lot alike, you and I."

"I know," she said, "But I... oh, hell, I don't know what I'm doing here-" No, she thought, no. I've been saying that for too long. I don't mean it anymore. Maybe I never did. Ivanova regretted nothing. She closed her eyes and sought within herself, until she felt the truth and could not turn away from it. She opened her eyes and saw that same truth before her, and Ivanova reached for Marcus once again.

"I'm so scared, Marcus," she said quietly, looking up at him standing over her now, wanting to reach out again. "I'm scared of dying, scared of living. I'm scared of sitting here and telling you the truth, but I don't know how to hide from it anymore."

"Susan," he said gently, and she was amazed that she had never noticed before how he said her name- as if it were something to be treasured, simply because it was hers. "You don't have to say anything. I know."

"It's taken a lot for me to get to this point. Let me finish." She paused, he nodded, and then she went on. "There are days I don't know whether to strangle you or kiss you, maybe both at once, but I think I'm falling in love with you, Marcus. I love you, and I'm sorry- That I haven't appreciated your kindness or your compassion, that I've given you so much grief the last couple of years. I'm sorry I was so stubborn and so blind. I'm sorry I wasn't the person you wanted me to be, sorry that maybe I still don't know how to be that person-"

"Susan, Susan... You are all you've ever needed to be. Don't you know that? I love you for what you are, and I couldn't ever dream of changing a thing about you even if I could." He paused. "Except perhaps your hair. You should wear it down more. Prettier that way, really. Or at least, I think so."

She laughed, and set her fingers to the task of unbraiding her hair. It hung loose about her shoulders then, and Marcus brushed it back from her face.

"There," he said. "Now you're perfect. Do you know, I think I've loved you from the moment I first set eyes on you?" Ivanova raised her eyebrows, and Marcus arched his own brows in reply. "It's true, you know. There you were, standing about, giving orders to this one and yelling at that one, so lovely I thought I'd had a vision. And then you yelled at me alongside everyone else, and I knew you were real. I feel as if I've had another of those visions now, and I'm dreading the moment when I wake up. But since I haven't yet, well, it's a very nice delusion, and I shan't worry over it until I'm awake." He paused. "So. Assuming there's a logical explanation for all of this, what's brought about this sudden change of heart?"

"We've been lucky so far," Ivanova said. "We might not always be. Sheridan's getting killed last year doesn't count; he came back. The rest of us, I really don't think our lives are that charmed or our luck that good."

"I don't believe in luck," said Marcus.

"That's exactly my point. This is nearly over, and we've done pretty well for ourselves, excepting Garibaldi's going turncoat on us, but nobody's luck holds forever, and I think ours is just about due to be breaking. If I'm going to die, I'd rather not do it with any more regrets than I've already got." She stopped, looked at him, and then Susan Ivanova wrapped her arms around Marcus Cole and drew him down beside her.

"I love you, Susan," he said quietly.

"I did finally figure that out, in case you hadn't noticed."

"I had, actually." He paused. "And you're right. I figured much the same as you- this would be the worst possible time for our luck to run out, and since I don't believe in it in the first place- You're not the only one who's afraid, you know. I am, too."

"Of what?" Ivanova asked. She'd called him many things in the last few years and said even more unkind ones that much louder, but the word 'afraid' had never once crossed her mind in connection with Marcus.

"Of everything, I sometimes think. Of letting people down again, of losing what little bit of a life I've managed to build up for myself...of losing the people I've come to know and to care about...but mostly, I think, afraid of losing you."

"Me?" she asked. "Do I look like I'm going anywhere?"

"No, but neither did Sheridan until he got it into his head to take off for Z'ha'dum. And that's not really what I meant. Bad example, anyway. But, Susan... if something were to happen to you, I don't think that I could bear it."

For a moment she didn't speak, and then she said, "The truth is, I'm afraid of losing you, too, Marcus- of being hurt again, one way or another. I always have been, that's why I've waited so long to say things I should've said a long time ago. But sometimes all you've got is today, and you've got to take that and enjoy it- and let it be enough."

Marcus nodded. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

"Exactly," she said. "I don't know about you, but I'm not hungry, the drink I want isn't going to be anyplace on a White Star-"

Marcus laughed at that. "Nope, most likely not."

"As for that last one, I'm not sure I remember how to be merry. I'm going to try, though." And Ivanova smiled.

"Lovely," Marcus said, grinning. "You should do that more often. Lights up your entire face. Now, I'll tell you what. Once all of this nonsense is over, and we've booted Clark out of office and gone back to B5, would you let me take you out to dinner?"

Ivanova pretended to consider it for a moment. "Yeah, I guess I would."

"Splendid," Marcus replied.

She smiled. "Marcus?"

"Hmm?"

"Why didn't you let me get another hour of sleep?"

"Were you sleeping?"

Ivanova shook her head. "No, not really. I tried, but I guess I had a little bit too much on my mind. You?"

"Didn't even try," Marcus said. "I sent Lennier and some of the others to get a bit of rest, though."

"Good. They're going to need it." She paused. "How much more time do we have?"

"Not nearly enough to say everything I want to," Marcus said. "But we'll make do. I believe there was some mention of being merry?"

"Might've been," Ivanova said. "Tell me something, though."

"Anything."

"How many dreams and fantasies are you fulfilling right now?"

Marcus laughed. "None."

"I thought Rangers didn't lie."

"We never bluff. Lying's different, but that's another story- and really, none." He paused, and Ivanova laughed as she saw the flush creeping along his face. "This isn't your bed, now is it?"

"Marcus!"

"You did ask."

Ivanova laughed. "I guess I did."

"Honestly," Marcus protested, "I'll have you know I indulged in no such fantasies. I won't pretend I have the sort of pure, spiritual love Lennier has for Delenn, but I've always thought that what I felt for you- what there might be between us was, somehow, deeper and more meaningful than that."

"Spoken like a true virgin. It is a nice sentiment, though," Ivanova said. Then, "Can I ask you a question?" Marcus nodded. "How is it that you never gave up on me? It's been a long two years, and I've been so horrible to you-"

"Not horrible, Susan," Marcus replied. "Defensive. Protecting yourself, or trying to. There's a difference." At her startled look, he shrugged. "I learned a bit about people while training to be a Ranger- it's something they make you go through before your training is complete. You have to learn to face yourself, to understand who and what you are, and somehow, when that's done, you understand others around you better, too."

She nodded, and Marcus went on.

"You'd been hurt before- badly, I believe- and you were trying to keep it from happening again. I do understand that, I really do. No one in their right mind wants to be hurt, Susan. Not even a crazy 'damn fool Ranger' like myself." He smiled and rested his head on her shoulder. "Besides, I've always had hope, you know- for you, for me, for us- well, maybe not for me, but I look at it this way. I, we, all of us, survived the Shadow War- Sheridan's death and resurrection not withstanding, of course. And if I could live through that, it stands to reason that I can survive chancing to fall in love with you."

"Thanks for not giving up on me, Marcus."

"Somebody had to have faith in you," Marcus said. "I think you lost quite a bit of it in yourself for a time there."

"I had...other things on my mind," Ivanova said.

"Yes, I know. You were the one carrying everybody else's burdens then, and I thought it only fair that one of us ought to carry yours. Or try to, at least."

"I never wanted anybody to do that for me, Marcus."

"I know. But you were busy trying to fill Sheridan's shoes, taking care of all of us. Seemed only right we should look after you." He paused. "Do you know, I used to think there wasn't any hope for us because I thought you were in love with him?"

"Me?" Ivanova asked. "In love with John?" She shook her head, laughing. "You've got to be kidding me. He's a good friend, and he's always been something like a brother to me- sometimes I need that."

"Your brother was older than you, wasn't he?" Marcus asked. Ivanova nodded. "Mine was younger. I miss him terribly." He paused, and turned to look up at her, his head still resting on her shoulder. "It's funny, isn't it, how quickly you can come to care for the people you fight with. You and Sheridan. Sinclair and I. In some ways I don't think I ever really knew him, but he was- is -a good friend. So many faces I know I'll never see again- makes me sad, so I try not to think about it. Can't help it sometimes, though."

"No," Ivanova said. "You can't. And the others- sometimes I look at them and I wonder, is this the last time I'll ever see this person? Is this the last time I'll ever laugh with this friend, or fight alongside that one? I'd just about trained myself not to feel anymore, not to get attached or to care about anyone. And then you came along. I think that's the one thing that really drove me crazy about you- the way you spun into our lives like this obnoxious whirlwind, and you just never shut up, and nothing I said could ever seem to get you down for long..."

"Ahah!" Marcus exclaimed. "Now I have it! The lovely and talented Susan Ivanova has finally met someone her cynicism can't touch." He paused. "Of course, that might just be because I've cynicism to match yours, and then some, but either way, it's an amusing notion."

"Remind me again," Ivanova said, "why I haven't killed you yet?"

"Because you love me?" Marcus replied, and there was a look in his eyes that might have been there for a long time, a thing Ivanova hadn't noticed before, perhaps because she hadn't been looking- had very pointedly not been looking, in fact. There was pain and sadness there to match her own, but along with that there was something else- joy and hope and what could only be love shining through it all, and she swiped at her own eyes twice before realizing she was crying.

"Here, now," Marcus said quietly, "what's this? I'm sorry, I shouldn't make fun."

"It's not that at all," Ivanova said, brushing tears from her eyes again. Damnit, what's wrong with me? "Marcus, I..."

"Susan? What is it?"

"I just realized exactly how much of a fool I've been, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it, if you absolutely must know. I don't think anyone has ever felt about me the way that you do- not and really meant it."

"No? Me, either, and I think maybe it's just about time things were changing for both of us," Marcus said. He reached for her and drew her close. Marcus kissed her gently, and Ivanova's arms went tightly 'round him, her fingers brushing through his thick dark hair. "No more regrets, Susan," he whispered, "and no more worries about what tomorrow might bring. Today, now, this moment, that's all that matters."

"I love you, Marcus."

"I have always loved you, Susan. Always."

"I know," Ivanova said, "and when we get back to Babylon 5- when we do- everything changes. It all changes, Marcus, and for the better."

"How can you be so sure of that?"

"Because I'm going to make it happen."

"Just like that?" Marcus asked. "You can't change the world, Susan."

"Yes," she said matter-of-factly, "I can."

"Now I know I'm dreaming," Marcus said, "and though it is a delightful dream, I assure you- Ouch!"

Ivanova smiled, and leaned in to kiss him. "Something wrong?" she asked.

"Wretched woman! Don't play innocent with me- you pinched me!"

"Yes, and it hurt, didn't it?" she replied.

"It did, yes," Marcus admitted, "but I still feel as if-"

"Shut up, Marcus," Ivanova said, and kissed him into silence.

The next either of them knew of the passage of time, several long moments had gone by, and they looked up as one to see Lennier framed in the doorway. The Minbari's gaze darted up for a moment, then returned to the careful study he'd been making of his shoes.

"Marcus, Commander Ivanova... I'm sorry to disturb you, but we've received a signal from Delenn. The other ships have nearly reached Mars."

"Thank you," Ivanova said with a sigh as she sat up. Lennier looked up again, and this time truly seemed to see Marcus lying beside her on the tilted surface that was hardly wide enough for two people. Her expression all but dared him to say anything about it, and Lennier wisely declined that silent challenge. He did, however, smile, and Ivanova and Marcus traded looks.

"What?" Ivanova asked.

"Delenn says they won't catch up with us until the next jump after this one, but Captain Sheridan has been freed."

"Yes!" Ivanova exclaimed.

And, "Good to see something's gone right for once," Marcus said as they slapped palms in the old human gesture known as the "high-five".

"I thought- you would want to know," Lennier said. He bowed over the fingers of his intertwined hands, and stepped back out of the room.

"Well," Ivanova said as she gave her uniform coat a tug to straighten it, "I guess we'd better get rolling."

Marcus nodded, brushed a speck of imagined dust from the shoulder of his Ranger cloak- and leaned in to kiss her deeply.

"For luck?" Ivanova asked with raised eyebrows.

"Nope. Told you already, I don't believe in luck." He seemed to suddenly grow serious, and as he spoke again, Marcus gave a formal little bow. "For the honor of the Rangers- in Valen's name. Entil'Zha veni."

"That's an odd thing to say," Ivanova said after a moment of shocked silence in which she'd been unable to speak. For as he'd said the words he had bowed to her, the way she had seen Marcus and the other Rangers bow to Delenn, and, once, onboard the White Star in route to Babylon 4, to Jeffrey Sinclair.

"Yes, isn't it?" Marcus agreed lightly. "Shall we?" Gallantly he offered her his arm, and she looked at it for a time as if she'd never seen its like before, then shook her head, laughed to herself, and took it.

* * *

"Susan, I think you should hear this..." Marcus called, and there was something in his voice...

Advanced destroyers. The words rang in her head, rattling around alongside another phrase. Alien technology.

In combination they could only mean one thing, given what they knew.

"Shadowtech," Ivanova whispered, making the word a curse, and Marcus nodded mutely, one hand resting against the back of her command chair. "Shadowtech. Damnit, Marcus-"

He did speak, then. "I know," the Ranger said quietly. "Bastards."

Neither of them said as much, but both Marcus and Ivanova knew that to incorporate Shadow tech into EarthForce ships, even on a small scale, would have required the unthinkable; the horrible, twisted bonding of flesh and machine- and that flesh would be human. For each of the ships they raced to fight, a human life had been- not simply sacrificed, but thrust by the willing hands of their own into a world of terrible, merciless chaos, beings who as they merged with the machine would come to live for only one thing- to destroy, to kill, for chaos was the only legacy the ships' warped CPUs would ever know.

The nightmarish thing that had once been Anna Sheridan had been one of these, and Ivanova remembered the terrible wrongness she had seen when Anna came to Babylon 5 so many years after she had been thought killed upon the Icarus. What she had seen then was all the more the stuff of nightmares, something that haunted her nights still. She had come to know Anna while serving under John Sheridan on Io, and to have known her then, and to see her so many years later and so agonizingly changed...

Ivanova shook her head in an attempt to clear it of these thoughts, as dwelling on them couldn't change what Clark had done, or what they must do themselves.

"...Susan?" Marcus asked, sounding as if he'd been calling to her for some time now.

"Sorry," Ivanova said with a sigh.

"We'd better tell the Captain that apparently Clark's decided to pick up some of the toys the Shadows left behind," Marcus said.

"Awfully big toys for someone like Clark- let's just hope he doesn't really know how to play with them," Ivanova replied.