Twas the week before Christmas and out in the Net
Some Babylon 5 fans were beginning to fret.
They'd been very good- towards the end of the year,
Hadn't goosed Garibaldi, or short-sheeted Lennier.
They heard Delenn's speeches without rolling their eyes,
Hiding their snickers as Sheridan beamed at his prize.
They let Ivanova rant without saying a word;
When Vir said the Great Maker was the Great Bird.
They lined up obediently to get their flu shot;
Never saying 'You first' when Franklin asked them to drop.
They didn't point out the mistletoe, hung in C&C,
Not even when Londo and G'Kar stood beneath.
They kept the ferrets locked up for an age,
Though Marcus' trousers would have made a great cage.
Still no new B5 story appeared on their flist-
And now they began to get royally pissed.
Then it appeared, from out of the mist,
A new Christmas story, with a slight twist.
They huzzahed and hurrayed and hurried to read,
At least so I hope, and that they'll be pleased.
A B5 Christmas Story
Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari stood in a corridor of the Babylon 5 station, hands crossed demurely in front of her, her traditional habits of patience and forbearance leaving her face smooth and relaxed, except for a deep furrow centered directly between her eyes. She was positioned in front of a comscreen that showed a flustered and unhappy member of her race. Behind her and to the right stood her assistant Lennier. He also seemed calm and at peace with the situation. Delenn spoke soothingly to her station communications liaison.
"It is quite all right, Senneth. I understand the difficulty of obtaining permission for a real-time streaming of Shaal Mayan's performance. The time delay recording shall suffice. Thank you for all your effort in this matter." Pushing a button on the bottom controller with just a bit more pressure than was necessary, she turned to Lennier. "You were quite correct. There is nothing to be done." Inclining her head slightly, she moved towards the turbolift that would take her back to her quarters. Lennier started to follow, but then decided to wait a little while. At times it was best to leave Delenn to deal with her disappointment in her own way.
Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova had been attacked by a bout of melancholy. It didn't strike her often, this feeling of being all alone in the great wide galaxy. She had comrades and friends, both human and alien, though none were around to talk with right at this moment. She was damn good at her work, loved it in fact, and she believed deeply in the mission of the Babylon 5 station. Peace was always a worthy goal, something to strive for, even for a soldier; perhaps especially for a soldier. Restlessly she prowled her quarters, picking up a photograph here and a piece of art there and remembering people and places from her past. It was only a few hours into her free time and she wasn't tired or hungry and it was far too early for sleep.
Collapsing onto the small couch in the living area of her quarters she surveyed this slice of her own personal space. It held bits and pieces of her life so far; her home, her travels. Rubbing absently at the single earring she always wore, in memory of her long-departed brother Ganya, she wished she could see him again. Or if not see him, then talk with him, or Papa...or her mother. It was at these moments that her family seemed both close at hand and too far gone to even remember properly. Her hand fell onto the hardback novel she'd been reading, and with a sigh she opened it, pulling out the bookmark, a postcard from St. Petersburg showing The Bronze Horseman wreathed in snow. It was probably snowing on Earth, in St. Petersburg, right now. Shaking her head free of memories she focused on her book, willing away her mood, replacing it with metaphor and plot.
Jeff Sinclair poured himself another glass of wine and headed into the living room. He stopped in front of the comscreen and hesitated for a moment, wondering whether it was worth pulling up an old movie from the archives of EarthNet, then shook his head and headed towards the small bookshelf against the far wall. There were some things he preferred to old vids and out of date newscasts. He pulled a dogeared paperback from the shelf and headed to the couch. He set his wine glass on the low table, lay down on the couch, stretching out his long-limbed frame, and opened the book at random.
None like her, none.
Just now the dry-tongued laurels' pattering talk
Seem'd her light foot along the garden walk,
And shook my heart to think she comes once more;
But even then I heard her close the door,
The gates of Heaven are closed, and she is gone.
He closed the book, his finger holding the place and looked up at the metal and plastic ceiling. He was trapped in a spinning tin can, and Catherine was gone again, embarked once more on her eternal quest for treasure trove. He hadn't even had time to see her off; things had blown up at the last minute, like they always seemed to around here. There were moments when he dreamed of shipping out with her, of shooting through space in search of something. He was always in search of something. Sometimes he thought he'd found what he was missing...in her eyes, in her smile. In his mind he knew what he was searching for couldn't be found in another person. In his heart, he knew that it could.
Delenn received the message late in the afternoon, and although she was already tired after a long day, she obeyed the summons and headed for the auditorium. Upon her arrival, she was surprised to see a long line of Minbari, patiently filing into the moderately sized room. Lennier was standing at the entryway, greeting each person by name or at the least by clan. When she reached the front of the line, he put his thumbs and forefingers together and bowed deeply.
"I have reserved a space for you in the center of the venue, near the front. The performance will begin in less than ten minutes."
Delenn's eyes widened as she took in the import of his words. "Mayan's performance?" Her sudden smile was blinding. "However did you manage this, Lennier?"
Lennier's face did not alter except for a slight widening of his eyes. "I thought it was your doing," he said under his breath. Then aloud, he said, "Does it matter? Please, let me show you to your seat." He waited for her to move into the room and followed, giving direction with few words and even fewer gestures. As he took his seat next to her, he spared some thought as to how this small showing had come about. It had been made clear to him that the high speed comlink was booked for far more important matters than a cultural program of little interest to the majority on the station. In fact, he had gotten the impression that the officer in the communications office had no appreciation of poetry of any sort, much less the complex interweaving of story and song that was Minbari tee'la. It was inexplicable. Looking sideways at Delenn's rapt face, a slight smile hovering over her red lips and a pink flush of pleasure on her cheeks, he could only bless whatever circumstance led to this happy moment.
Susan was deep into her book when the comscreen lit up, indicating an incoming call. She had set it on silent alert, and restricted access to high priority communications. She laid down her book and her silk robe swirled around her as she padded towards the screen. It was blinking 'incoming call from Earth'. Surprised she said, "Accept," then added 'audio only' as she looked down at her attire.
"Susan!" boomed a familiar voice. "I cannot see you. This thing must be broken. Stupid device, it never works when I want it to."
"Rabbi Koslov?" said Susan. She pulled her robe closed and fastened the belt, then pulled her fingers through her hair in an attempt to straighten out the curls. "Visual on," she said, and the screen cleared to reveal the rabbi tapping on the screen with his forefinger.
"There you are," he said. "These things need a little adjustment at times. How are you?" he said, putting his face close to the monitor as if he could decrease the distance between them that way.
"I'm fine, but why are you calling? And how did you get through to me on this channel?" Susan said, pleased but confused.
"What channel?" he fussed. "I put in a call; it goes through, which is enough of a miracle without worrying about how exactly the words travel miles through empty space." He patted the pockets of his jacket, and pulled out a flat piece of crystal. He looked at it with a fond expression touched with sadness. "I found this picture today." He held it up to the screen. It was a holotype of a couple in formal dress, behind them stood another couple, with a young boy standing between them, holding onto the woman's hand.
Susan reached out to touch the woman in the background of the picture. "Mama," she whispered. "Where did you find this? I thought they're weren't any pictures left of her. Papa destroyed them all when she died."
"It was taken at a wedding they attended at the synagogue, one of the first I officiated at there. See, there I am to the side, speaking to the bridge and groom." He turned the picture back to examine it. "Sophie was a lovely woman, but she seldom smiled for the camera. The photographer caught her off guard here, unobserved by the camera, she laughed at something Ganya was saying. I can hear her laugh still." Looking at Susan's face, stricken with remembrance, he nevertheless continued. "I thought you might like a copy of the picture. I had it replicated and sent on the next available data relay. I received a notification it had arrived at the station but there was some question about the designated recipient, a computer error no doubt. When I responded to the message I was told it was still being processed. The computer voice asked if I wished to speak to you. I said yes, of course I did. So here I am," he concluded with a warm smile.
"Thank you, Uncle Yossel." Susan squeezed out the words. "I will treasure it."
"Good, good," replied Rabbi Koslov. He made a clicking noise with his tongue. "There is an annoying light blinking in the corner of the screen here. I believe it is telling me our time is limited. I will make my farewells before we are cut off. Take care, Susan."
"You also," replied Susan, as the screen went blank. Her mind was in such turmoil she didn't even wonder why the call had made it through her filters. The picture was a gift, a gift from God, and she couldn't wait to hold it in her hands.
The lights were low and the room was half in darkness. Jeff Sinclair lay stretched out on the couch, one arm over his eyes, asleep and snoring lightly. A chime sounded in the darkness and he stirred but didn't awaken, even when a bar of light from the open door fell across his face.
He did stir, however, when soft lips brushed his. "Catherine," he said, half awake and half clinging to the dream.
The next kiss was more fervent and woke him completely. "Catherine," he murmured, clutching her shoulders as he rose to a sitting position without removing his lips from hers. "What are you doing back?"
"My ship was grounded," came the reply. Abruptly Catherine sat back on her heels, an indignant look on her face. "There is nothing wrong with my ship! Your maintenance people are crazy." With a slow burning smile she added, "I guess I'm stuck here for another night." She leaned forward and kissed him. "Unfortunately there is not one single solitary unit for rent on this station tonight. There is literally no room at the inn."
Jeff's smile broke their reassumed kiss. "I suppose you could stay here. If there's no where else."
Catherine shook her head, her silky black hair falling across his face. "No where else I'd rather be," she purred.
Jeff lay back on the couch, pulling her into his embrace. One more night, he thought as her warmth covered him. That's all I wanted. That's everything.
The wall of screens in the small control room showed every aspect of the station, from corridors to quarters, from public rooms to rest rooms. Michael Garibaldi leaned back in his chair and swiveled back and forth, looking from one screen to another. All was calm. He pursed his lips together, whistling a slow old tune, only slightly off key. A job well done was a job done well, his father had always said. Surveying his station, his kingdom, he picked up his data pad and perused the list of names, neatly checked off. Touching the screen, he advanced the document to the next page on which Londo Mollari was written in large red letters.
"Now for the naughty list," he said, unable to suppress a wicked grin. '"Ho de-fragging Ho."