LIGHT BETWEEN SHADOWS

By Frieda W. Landau

 

 

 

Captain John Sheridan let himself into his quarters, leaned against the doorjamb, and folded his arms. He regarded the petite woman sitting on his couch for a moment.

   "So, the Minbari Ambassador awaits my pleasure, does she?" He leered at her and waggled his eyebrows.

   Delenn laughed with delight. "Human faces are so much more expressive than Minbari.

   "That's because we have eyebrows," John said, waggling them again.

   Delenn laughed again and rose gracefully to stand in front of him. She brushed her fingertips over the hair on his brows before gently kissing him.

   "And now it's time for you to go to bed," she said, pointing to the bedroom. "So I can watch you sleep."

   "Don't you want to know what my pleasure is?" He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently nuzzled the back of her neck. "Besides, I'm not tired yet." His voice was muffled by her hair as he kissed his way toward her left ear.

   His hands began roaming, first to stroke her hips and belly, and then upward to cup her breasts. For a few moments she relaxed against him, enjoying the feel of his touch on her body. Then, she put her hands over his and firmly removed them from her breasts. She took a step away and turned to face him.

    "John...." Her voice slightly was breathless. She started again. "John, this is a serious matter. I cannot watch you sleep if you will not go to bed. When Minbari become close, as we have become close...."

   Sheridan grinned and reached for her again. She stepped away from him again.

   "John, please. If we are to become even closer, I must watch you. It is only a formality in our case,"she said smiling, "but it is traditional...."

   "I'm sorry. I'll be good." He shrugged his shoulders. "But I'm still not sleepy."

   Delenn lightly touched the side of his face. "Perhaps, if you were to get ready for bed now, we could talk a while until you fall asleep. I will make you some tea to help you relax while you prepare."

   He leaned forward to kiss the tip of her nose. "All right. I'll just be a minute."

   He could hear her moving around, humming an unfamiliar, but cheerful, tune as she prepared the tea.

   "Delenn," he called out from the bathroom. "I forgot to get anything for breakfast. If you want something in the morning, we'll have to go out." He couldn't hear her reply over the noise of the shower.

   Toweling off, he rummaged in a drawer of the bureau. "Breakfast wasn't the only thing I forgot," he muttered. He had planned to buy some pajamas for tonight. But with all he had to do after the battle, studying damage reports and making arrangements for repairs, and seeing that Stephen was okay, he never found the time. He didn't want Delenn to see him in his usual sleepwear. Letting her see his true face was one thing, but showing her those ratty shorts and t-shirts he favored....Well, their relationship wasn't secure enough for that yet. He went from drawer to drawer, checking and discarding one item after another. Finally, he remembered his old wind surfing shorts. Though why he always took them on every assignment was a mystery. Habit, he supposed. He didn't really expect to find the time or a place, especially not in space, where he spent most of his time. The bright colors had long since faded and the shorts were baggier than ever, but at least they didn't have holes in embarrassing places. He decided to forego a t-shirt. Everything he had was either too disreputable or too uncomfortable for sleep.

   "John?" Delenn's voice broke into his thoughts. "Are you finished? The tea is ready."

   "Come on in, the door's unlocked." Damn! He'd forgotten about the socks. "Where is your head, John?" he admonished himself. "Just put the tea on the desk in here. I'll be right out." He rushed into the bathroom. Delenn would want to use the bathroom if she stayed all night. He didn't think she was ready to wade through a bunch of wet socks hanging on the line he'd strung between the shower and the door. Quickly, he tossed the socks into the hamper. He'd do them again tomorrow. Now, he just had to take down the line....

   Delenn maneuvered through the bedroom doors with the tea tray on her hip. She glanced around, uncertainly. John must be in the bathroom. She could hear him banging into something and swearing. She smiled. Tonight was going to be all right. And afterward. She started to hum the tune again, a bawdy song about two lovers, as she placed the tray on the desk. She had never been in John's bedroom before. She liked the way it was uncluttered, every item seemingly chosen carefully. She supposed years of living in tight quarters aboard ship made such neatness habitual. And the bed, big enough for two, she noticed with a grin, looked very comfortable. She was pouring a cup of tea, a Minbari blend that soothed and calmed, when she heard him come out of the bathroom. She turned and started laughing.

   Captain Sheridan stopped in mid stride. Why was she laughing? He quickly scanned the room. Nothing. Surreptitiously, he checked to see if his fly was open. That wasn't it, either.

   "I'm sor..." Delenn gasped. "John, I...you...." She stopped, overcome by another paroxysm of laughter. Finally, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

   "I'm sorry, John. I couldn't help it. All the pictures I've seen of human males preparing for sleep show them wearing trousers and matching jackets." She giggled briefly. "I didn't expect short, shapeless pants with bizarre creatures in equally bizarre colors." She tried to stifle another laugh.

   John looked down at the pink conch shells, yellow starfish, and turquoise sea horses that adorned the purple shorts. He grinned. "I guess the colors are a bit ...um... unexpected. But you're not being fair, you know. You see what I sleep in, but I don't know what Minbari sleep in. I think you should change too."

   "But, you are the one who is going to sleep. I am only going to watch."

   "What if you fall asleep and I end up watching you? Shouldn't I be able to see your true face, too?"

   "It is not done. It is traditional that the female watches and the man sleeps."

   "Why?"

   "Why?" Delenn thought a moment. "It is traditional, that is why."

   "That's no reason. Come on, Delenn. Fair is fair." He hid his smile as she bit her lower lip in thought.

   "But, Minbari don't wear anything really different to bed," she explained. "We wear robes, similar to our ordinary dress. In fact, very like that robe." She pointed to a dark blue bathrobe on the foot of the bed. "Now, get in bed, John. Please."

   "Nope. Not until you get ready, too." He crossed his arms on his chest.

   "John, you can't be serious...." She sighed. "Very well. But then you must promise to go right to sleep." She pointed to the door. "If you will wait in the outer room?"

   John closed the doors and turned his back to give her absolute privacy. He could hear Delenn muttering in standard and Minbari as she undressed. Her voice rose. He smothered a laugh. The words were Minbari, but their meaning was clear. Delenn had just discovered that the robe was way too large for her.

   "Are you okay?" he called out.

   "Yes, yes. I'm fine," Delenn answered before letting out a string of imprecations in all three Minbari tongues and seven different dialects. The man was impossible! This was totally against tradition. She caught sight of herself in the mirror on the closet door. She looked ridiculous. The sleeves were rolled to the elbows and the skirt of the robe puddled on the floor. The sash wrapped around her twice, like in those vids Michael Garibaldi once showed her. Japan, that was the place. And if she let go of the edges of the robe, it gaped in a most unMinbari way. Bunching the front closed with one hand, she opened the bedroom door with the other. And promptly tripped over the hem.

   John caught her before she could fall. For a moment, they stood still, his hands under her arms, brushing the sides of her breasts; her hands pressed against his bare chest. At the same instant, they let go. She stepped back, taking care not to fall again. She was very aware of his nearness and his near nakedness.

   "You okay?" he asked. He could still feel the warmth of her palms on him. At her nod, he walked around her toward the bed.

   She turned to face him. He was smiling. She glared at him. "You just wanted a chance to laugh at my attire."

   "I'm not laughing." He tried to compose his face. "You look adorable."

   "Hmmf," she snorted. "Minbari ambassadors should not look adorable."

   He laughed then. He couldn't help it. After giving him a another glare, she began to laugh too.

   "I guess we both look ridiculous," she said, shaking her head. "It is good that we see each other like this, with no pretense between us. Perhaps, I should suggest this to the temple masters, as an addition to the ritual."

   "Perhaps." He grinned. "But you still look adorable." He held up his hands as she aimed a mock blow at his head. "Okay, Okay...I surrender. You don't look adorable." He looked into her eyes. "You're beautiful," he said softly. After an awkward pause, he continued. "Well...um...I guess I better try to sleep now...."

   He did not see the shoes she left at the foot of the bed. When he stumbled over them, she reached out to him without thought. He fell against the bed and half on it. She fell on top of him. He kissed her, or maybe she kissed him. Neither ever knew. Before the kiss deepened, he pulled back and held her away from him. He had to be sure.

   "Delenn, are you okay with this? I didn't plan for this to happen. I don't want to do anything you don't want...."

   She put two fingers against his lips. "Yes." That was all she said, but it was enough.

   He scrambled to his feet and held out his hand to her. Pulling her up, close against him, he kissed her again. This time, the kiss was long and deep. She caressed the back of his head and neck, pulling him even closer as he slipped his hands inside her robe. Her skin was soft and warm. She sighed into his mouth. He pushed the robe away from her shoulders and kissed his way to the cleft between her breasts.

   "Mmmm....that feels wonderful."

   "It's going to feel even better," John said. He kissed his way back to her lips, all the while fumbling with the sash of her robe. "That is, if I can ever get this robe off you. What kind of knot is this anyway?"

   "A secure one," She said, smiling at him. "Here, let me show you." She guided his hand to one end of the knot. He pulled as she indicated and the sash slipped free. She shrugged out of the robe, letting it fall at her feet.

   He stared at her for a long moment. Since that first kiss on the bridge of the White Star, they had indulged in little more than light petting. This was the first time he saw her entirely naked. She was beautiful and exotic, ivory with a faint blush of peach. Her breasts were small, but perfectly formed, firm and full; the nipples a dusky blue, like veins seen through translucent skin. Her navel was a mere dimple on her slightly rounded belly. Slim hips curved to meet shapely legs and small, narrow feet. His gaze was drawn to her pubic mound. There too, the skin had a blue tinge, but lighter than her nipples. The hair was sparse, scarcely a light dusting of brown fuzz. He thought of how it would feel under his hands; how it would feel to kiss her there.

   "John?" Delenn's voice was touched by anxiety. "Is something wrong?"

   "What?" He mentally shook himself. "No, nothing's wrong. In fact, everything is right." He tipped her face up and gently kissed her. "I was just admiring the view."

   She smiled and pulled his head down. There was nothing gentle about this kiss. His teeth bruised her lips as his tongue thrust deep. She bit him, but he was unaware of any pain. She moaned when he released her mouth to kiss and nip and lick his way to her breasts. She could feel him, hot and hard against her. Impatiently, she tugged at his shorts.

   "Aren't you going to take these off?" She was panting.

   He showed her how they fastened on the inside. She untied the drawstrings and pushed his shorts past his hips, to fall to the floor. She caressed his buttocks while he stepped out of the shorts. Now it was her turn to look at him. He was well muscled, with a firm, flat, belly and long sturdy legs covered with russet hair. A mound of thick, curly hair, darker than the rest, cradled his testicles and the root of his outthrust penis. He shuddered at her touch, becoming firmer and fuller. When she reached to take him in hand, he stopped her.

   "No, Delenn. Don't. Wait." His voice was hoarse. He took her hand and led her back to the bed.

   He pulled the comforter aside for her to climb in. She slid over to make room for him, but he hesitated.

   "Delenn, I...uh...I should have asked this sooner, but...uh...can we do this?" He paused, tongue tied and embarrassed. "I mean, are you and I...."

   "Are you and I, what?" she said straight faced. She let him struggle a moment longer. Then, she smiled. "Yes, John, we can. I am fully human in that regard."

   She held out her arms invitingly. He grinned as he scrambled in beside her and lay on his side, facing her. He started to call "lights dim," but Delenn stopped him.

   "No, leave them. I want to see you," she said softly.

   She caressed the side of his face. He turned his head into her palm and kissed it. They began to explore each other, tentatively, at first, but with more assurance as each responded to the other. John loved the feel of her. She seemed so fragile, but under the smooth, soft skin, was firm muscle. Steel sheathed in silk. He ran his hand down the curve of her hip to her thigh and to her small, solid buttocks, lightly stroking, before tracing the path of her spine to her neck. His fingers encountered a small, rough patch of skin between her shoulder blades. The remnants of the knife. He didn't want to think about that. He had been so afraid he would lose her. But she was all right now. The doctors assured him in time the scar would fade completely. Delenn sighed.

   John came back to the present. Here he was, the woman of his dreams, the woman who haunted his dreams, in his bed, sighing for his caresses, and he wasn't paying attention. Delenn sighed again.

   "You like that, do you? How about this?"

   He began to finger her crest, lightly at first. He discovered it was sensitive a few months ago, quite by accident. When he finally understood why she had jumped at his touch, he stammered out an apology, which only made matters worse. Now, he probed the folds, stroking across the ridges and into the hollows, with more confidence as she responded. He had never felt anything like it before. The crest was firm, like bone, but sensitive, like skin. It darkened as he rubbed, and as it darkened, Delenn made little, mewing sounds, interspersed with what he thought was Minbari. He caught his name, and Valen's, which sounded incongruous under the circumstances. It didn't sound like she was complaining, so he thought he must be doing something right. She gasped, suddenly, and pulled his head down to hers. She kissed him fiercely, digging her fingers into the muscles of his back.

   Rolling her onto her back for comfort, John kissed the hollow of her throat. He lowered his mouth to her breasts, sucking and tonguing first one and then the other, while his hand caressed her belly and then her pubic mound. It felt like velvet, soft and just a bit ticklish. He thought about kissing her there, but he didn't know how Minbari felt about oral sex. And he definitely wasn't going to ask right now! Delenn was almost purring. He slipped his hand between her legs, to stroke the soft skin of her inner thighs and the outer folds of her vagina. She was warm and wet. He probed gently, lightly rubbing across her clitoris. Her hips arched up to meet his hand. He inserted first one finger and then another, to open her, when he encountered resistance. There seemed to be a barrier of some sort....He withdrew his hand as though stung.

   Delenn opened her eyes. "What is wrong? Am I not responding properly?"

   "You...you're...I mean..."

   "John, what is the matter? Tell me." She sat up and turned his head toward her.

   John took a breath and let it out. "You're a virgin, Delenn. I guess I didn't expect that."

   "Of course." She smiled fondly at him. "I have had neither the time nor the inclination to take a human lover, until now." He did not return the smile. "John, I am only virgin in this body." She sighed. "You are not my first lover. Minbari are not celibate unless they choose to be. And celibacy was never my choice." She smiled again, but he still looked unsure. "Do I have to prove it to you? Very well."

   She grinned and lowered her head to his lap. Before he was aware of what she was up to, she was licking his testicles and gently nipping at the base of his penis. His reaction was immediate and obvious. He tried to sit up, but she pushed him back against the pillows. Using her hands and tongue, she alternately licked and stroked until he was whimpering helplessly. She finally stopped when she detected a few drops of seminal fluid leaking from the engorged tip. She raised her head, eyes full of mischief.

   "Okay, okay! I believe you." He held up his arms in mock surrender. "My God, Delenn, you're every man's dream: an experienced virgin!"

   Delenn laughed and kissed him. "Shall we continue where you left off?"

   He fondled her breasts. "Now let's see, where were we?"

   She took his hand and guided it between her legs. Again, he inserted a finger into her, gently probing. He rubbed her clitoris with his thumb and felt her begin to spasm around his finger. She was ready. He rolled on his back and set her astride his legs.

   "Delenn, I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt."

   "It will not," she replied firmly. "I know what to expect, and I know what to do." She reached forward and took him firmly in hand. She guided the head of his penis to her vagina, but made no effort to insert it. Instead, she rubbed herself against him, slowly. He stroked her thighs and then grabbed her buttocks.

   "You'll have to do most of the work in this position...."

   "I know." She smiled. "Relax, John." She stroked the length of his penis and inserted the head into her. "You will have to help, though."

   "Yes, ma'am." He grinned and thrust his hips up to meet her downward motion until he encountered the expected resistance. He hesitated. He didn't want to hurt her.

   "John, please...don't stop now." Delenn was flushed and breathing hard. "It's all right."

   He started to reply when she contracted around him. He gasped and involuntarily arched his hips. He was through. Had he hurt her? He tilted her head so he could see her face. Her eyes were shining. She was calling his name, urging him on. The words were Minbari, but he needed no translation. He let himself go, thrusting up to meet her as she rode him with abandon, her hair swirling about her as she moved. He rubbed her clitoris and she climaxed, calling his name in triumph. Her climax triggered his. She held on to him as the aftershocks subsided, until, finally, she collapsed on top of him, breathless and exhausted.

   He stroked her hair while they lay there recovering. Her breath tickled his chest. He rolled on his side and spooned her against him. She was so small, he could easily curl around her. His hand rested idly on her breast.

   "Mmmm. Vu tam zha," she said in Minbari, slurring the words, and fell asleep.

   John chuckled softly. He would tease her when she awoke, that he had been right after all; he was the one who watched her sleep. Then, he too, fell asleep.

   She awoke first. She should get up, but she was too comfortable to move just yet. It felt so good laying there, with his body surrounding her. She sighed, sated and content. He awoke then, and kissed her shoulder.

   "You should be asleep," she said. "I have to start the Watching."

   "I will. I just want to stay like this a little while longer." He snuggled closer. "You don't regret tonight, do you, Delenn?" he asked after a little while.

   "Regret?" She turned to face him. "Never. I love you. Do you not know?"

   His only answer was a kiss, tender and loving. She sighed and spooned herself against him again. For a while, they lay there, quietly, savoring the moments.

   "John?"

   "What?" He was barely awake.

   "Where did you learn that?"

   "Learn what?"

   "What you are doing now."

   "Delenn, what are you talking about?" He was alert now. "I'm not doing anything." That was not entirely true. He was idly stroking her belly and drumming his fingers where the blue pigment started.

   "Yes, you are. You did it before, too, while we were still dressed." She turned to face him. "Where did you learn that. None of the data bases on human sexuality mention it."

   "Oh? You studied the data bases, did you?" he asked dryly.

   "Of course." She smiled wickedly. "It is always good to be prepared."

   "And just who were you preparing for?" He tried, but failed to keep the amusement out of his voice.

   She grinned and kissed the base of his throat. "And you did no research into Minbari ways?"

   "I wouldn't presume," he said straight faced. "Besides, it's all in Minbari anyway!" They both laughed at that.

   "Seriously, John, the way you were stimulating the d'vosh shaklu, the blue blaze," she pointed to her stomach, "that is a part of what humans call foreplay. Where did you learn that?"

   "I don't know," he said. "It just seemed natural. I didn't even think about it. What does it mean?"

   "I am not sure," Delenn answered. "I think it means we are old souls who have been together in other lives." At his look of inquiry, she added, "I will explain in the morning. Now," she said firmly, removing herself from his arms,"you must sleep and I must watch." She kissed him and left the bed.

   "I guess you're right," he said.

   He watched as she put on the robe and went over to the desk to check the carafe of forgotten tea. The container had kept it warm.

   She poured herself a cup and sat in the comfortable chair in the corner. Sipping her tea, she watched him. John was in the middle of the bed, now. She wondered if that would be a problem in the future. Not that she minded. It would be fun trying to solve it. She grinned at the thought.

   John turned to face her. He wanted to say something, tell her how glad he was that she was there, but he didn't want to disturb her now that she'd started to watch him, just in case it was bad luck or forbidden. He didn't know very much about Minbari ways. He'd have to learn. She shouldn't have to do all the accommodating. He fell asleep watching her watching him.

   Delenn stood at the foot of the bed for a while. She should shower and dress, she supposed. But not just yet. His scent and the scent of their lovemaking was still on her. That pleased her. Everything pleased her tonight. Especially the man in the bed. She regarded him, a finger to lips that curved in a secret smile. Yes, he pleased her very much.

   John awoke momentarily and saw the satisfied smile on her face. He fell back asleep with a self-satisfied smile on his own.

 

*****

 

 

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