"How did you do it, Delenn?" Jeff looks up at her from his place on the floor. He had returned to the station hours ago, intending to go directly to Sheridan and tell him about Babylon 4 and the astounding mission he has before him. Instead, he had ended up at her door. He isn't as surprised as he thinks he should be.
Delenn looks at him seriously, her hands stilling around the small teacup she holds. They've talked of everything but this, and now it is time. In her mind's eye she can still see the letter from Valen, now folded carefully on the table in her bedroom. She's read it so many times in the last few days that she knows she'll remember every word for the rest of her life.
Jeff leans back against the seat of the couch, dropping his head to rest on a cushion. He's watching her with dark eyes, tracing the small changes in her face and body since the last time he saw her. It isn't the lost look of a desperate man, but rather a man who is watching the last few pieces of an important puzzle slotting into place. His voice, however, falters a little.
"I remembered the prophecies of Valen," she says. "That the two halves of our souls must become one."
He huffs a short laugh. "Ironic."
"I prefer to think of it as part of the symmetry of the universe."
"I became human to be a bridge between our peoples, yes. But now I think I also did it to balance what you are about to do. To become."
"Valen," he says quietly. He picks at the fringes of a cushion, afraid to look at her. He doesn't want to see her looking at him the way Minbari look when they talk about Valen.
"Yes." He feels her shift on the couch beside him. She touches him gently on the shoulder. "Listen to me, Jeffrey. You have the soul of Valen because Valen has always been you. Don't be afraid."
He catches her hand and turns to face her. "Did it hurt? The chrysalis?"
"Yes," she says simply. Delenn is very good at not talking about things, at telling lesser and greater lies in service of great truths. She has dodged so many of his questions in the past, but not now. "It changes every part of you, and you feel all of it. But you know this."
"I'm going to be Minbari," he says. He laughs ruefully. "I don't even mind that. It's that I won't be human any more." His hand tightens on hers. "Will I? You're still a little Minbari, Delenn. But I'm going to have to pass as full Minbari. I'm going to lose everything human about my body. How did you do it, Delenn?"
"Oh, Jeffrey." Delenn holds out her arms. "Come here." She pulls him to her and he goes, resting his head in her lap. She strokes his hair softly and he wraps his arms around her, holding her a little too tightly.
After a few moments he realizes that she's tracing patterns through the thick hair of his head. Her fingers are gentle, running up the back of his skull and brushing backward from his temples. The massage feels really, really good, but he wonders why she's only touching that part of his head. "Oh," he murmurs after a while. "That's where the crest is going to be, isn't it?"
"Yes," she says. "I think it will feel strange, for you, as strange as it felt to lose most of mine." It isn't something she's spoken of to many people. Susan helped her with the hair, but she never asked what it was like to lose the Minbari parts, only what it was like to gain the human ones. "But it feels very good to do this, for a Minbari, too."
"Mmm." It's really very relaxing. "So if I did this to you, it would feel good?"
He can almost feel her smiling. "Yes."
"Can I?" Her fingers slow, trailing down the back of his neck, and he sits up. "I mean, I've never really-you can't just touch people's heads. Even if you are Entil'zha."
She laughs. "No one offered to go to bed with the leader of the Rangers? All those dashing young women and men?"
He colours. "No, I-probably. I'm sure some were curious. I don't think Rathenn would have let them. And there was Catherine."
"And you want to know more before you make the change."
He rubs at his forehead. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."
In answer she takes his hands and brings them to her temples. "Here," she says softly, and guides his hands up the graceful curve of her crest. It's like nothing he's ever touched before: hard and smooth but alive, a little cool to the touch but still decidedly a part of a warm living person. He brushes his fingertips tentatively over the ridges and feels her hum.
"You can feel that? There's nerves there?"
"Mm-hmm." She's shut her eyes. "Not like skin, but I can feel when you move your hands. You can press harder-yes, like that." She bites her lip and he decides he wants to make her hum again, so he traces his fingers firmly from the tip of the crest down over the smooth ridges and into her hair. He's rewarded with a little sighing sound that makes him smile.
He feels a flush of tenderness wash over him when she tilts her head back just a little, her eyes still closed, encouraging him to keep moving his hands. Her cheeks are a little pink and her lips are parted, soft little breaths escaping when he touches her again.
He's always thought she was beautiful, but in that pale, distant, deceptively delicate way Minbari had. Now she's purring in his arms, all soft and warm, dark hair curling over his hands. So close he could kiss her, and he suddenly realizes he wants to.
"Jeffrey," she says. Her voice is a little unsteady. Her eyes are dark and wide and her mouth quirks up at the corner. She rests her hands on his shoulders, stilling him. "Wait. I wanted to show you something else."
"Okay," he says, surprised to find his throat is dry. She reaches for the pin holding his Ranger's robes closed, and before she can ask he nods. "Whatever you want, Delenn."
She smooths the robes from his shoulders and helps him off with the shirt beneath. She looks at him for a long moment, then runs her hands over the planes of his chest. Such a big man, built like a warrior for all that Valen is most famous for his politics. Dark curls of hair yield under her fingertips. She plays with them, fascinated. She brushes over one nipple by accident and he makes a surprised, pleased noise.
"Delenn," he says, his voice strained. He's tense under the hands spread over his chest, and she can feel his heart thumping. He swallows audibly. "Will I lose that, the chest hair? Like the rest of my hair?"
"I think so," she says. "I've never seen a Minbari man who has it." She curls her fingers through the hair again. Her cheeks are a little pinker when she looks up at him. "But what I wanted to show you..."
She slides her hands lower, down over his ribs, and starts to trace lines over his flat stomach. He catches his breath-it almost tickles-and tries to figure out what she's doing. Swirls and curves, working lower and lower. "This will be blue," she says, and he hears a wistfulness in her voice. "Mine were light blue, thin branches here, wider here and here." She demonstrates with soft fingertips and he wonders if he'll touch his own chest this way someday, remembering something that isn't there.
"Delenn," he says, pressing his hand over hers.
She shakes her head. "It's all right." She reaches up and undoes the fastenings of her gown. The blue and purple brocade falls from slim, pale shoulders and pools around her waist. She wears something soft and white under it, thin enough that he can see the curves of her breasts quite clearly. He's been careful not to stare at her new body since he arrived, but the way his eyes widen now has nothing to do with curiosity about the chrysalis.
"What I wanted to show you," she says, and with a quick twist of her fingers the undergarments fall as well, baring her to the waist. She has exquisite small breasts that he'd absolutely like to spend some time contemplating, but she's taking his hand and pressing it to her stomach. His hand is wide on her smaller body and her soft skin burns him. "I'm human now, this way," she says, "but not completely." She turns in his arms and shows him her back. Immediately he sees what she means-the swirls of blue that she was marking out on his stomach are still there on her spine.
He traces them, reverently, from the base of her neck all the way down to the curve of her lower back. His hands are warm and big and gentle, and it has been a long, long time since anyone has touched her like this. She struggles to focus on what she wanted to tell him. "I wanted you to know that it doesn't take everything away. I don't know what it will leave you, but I have to believe that there will be something you recognize of yourself, after the change."
His hands settle at her hips and she feels warm breath on her shoulder. He kisses the back of her neck. "Thank you."
"You should know that at least one human understands what Valen means. And at least one Minbari will remember Jeffrey Sinclair."
He pulls her closer to his chest. "Will you?"
She leans into him. Her voice is almost a whisper. "Sometimes I think I have loved you all my life," Delenn says. "Before I knew who you were, I loved who you are becoming. And now you have become so dear to me as Jeffrey that it seems all of a piece. But that isn't possible. In between I hurt you so badly."
"Sshh," he says. "That was a long time ago. Do you think I could do this, if I still felt the way I did after the war?"
She shakes her head, unable to answer, and he brushes her hair gently off one shoulder. He kisses it. "You should know," he says, "that at least one human forgives you." She has wrapped her arms tightly around her stomach and he crosses one strong arm over them. "Apparently I'm going to make prophecies. I'll be thinking of you with every one of them."
A small laugh, and he feels her relax a little. "A frightening prospect, Jeffrey."
He chuckles deep in his chest. "Very."
She turns in his arms and settles herself against him. As she does so she feels one more of the differences between them, pressing up against her belly. She dips her hand to brush at the waistband of his trousers and smiles wickedly when his breath catches.
"Don't tell me," he rumbles in her ear. "That's going to change too?"
"Not so very much," she says. "But I can't know for sure unless you demonstrate for me. I have never made love with a human man." She slips out of his lap and rises, discarding her robe and the rest of her underthings as she stands.
"Come to bed with me, Jeffrey? Tomorrow will be the longest day of our lives."