THE PATH HOME (II)

By Jennie Moore

 

 

 

 

 *****

The White Star finally made it back to Babylon 5 space. Coming out of hyper-space, they contacted the station to have a shuttle come over to pick them up.

   The whole time they moved John from the White Star to the shuttle and then into the MedLab, he never woke up. Delenn was worried about this. As she stood outside the isolation room watching Doctor Hobbs work on him, John had never opened his eyes.

   "Doctor, is he all right?" Delenn inquired as the doctor exited the isolation room.

   "He will be. " Doctor Hobbs took a better look at Delenn. "Ambassador, you should get some rest. As soon as I know something, I'll call you."

   Delenn took one last look at John, decided he was in good hands, and headed out of MedLab. As she got to the door, Susan Ivanova's face appeared on the BabCom.

   "This is Commander Susan Ivanova of Babylon Five. I have an important announcement. We have freed Mars! I repeat...We have freed Mars!" Delenn thought she heard a cheer ring throughout the station. She even found herself smiling. 'This is good news. I just wish John was awake to hear it.' Then another thought slipped into her mind, 'What about his father?'

   It was two days later before John woke up.

   "Well, it's about time you joined us," Susan Ivanova said, standing in the doorway to the cubicle that John was in.

   John hadn't noticed her standing there. His mind was on someone else in the room. Delenn was sitting in a chair next to his bed, the steady rise and fall of her chest told John she was sound asleep. Then, as if realizing who was talking to him, he turned back to Susan.

   "Susan! What are you doing here? Why aren't you with the fleet? What's happened with Mars?" John asked, his temper rising.

   "Because, John, we already freed Mars. And since you've been out of it for the last two days, someone had to take over here. Your friend Mackie has taken over the fleet for the time being until you're back on your feet." Susan waited for John to say something, but a grin had spread across his features. And somehow he didn't look so worn out and sick.

   "You've freed...?" he began but didn't get to finish the thought. Delenn had woken up.

   "John!" And Delenn practically jumped out of the chair and into his waiting arms. After giving each other a hug, Delenn stood back and looked at him. There was so much love in her eyes along with the tears that were welling up.

   Susan stood there, watching them together. It had been along time since she had seen John smile, and Delenn had been so patient waiting for him to wake. Susan never realized how much they loved each other till now.

   "Oh, I almost forgot," Susan added. "I got word from Stephen. And before you ask, yes, he's still on Mars. He said your father is with him and Michael. He wanted to make sure your father's health would allow him to fly before he would let Michael bring him here. They should be arriving anytime."

   "John?" Delenn said, trying to get his attention. "John," she said again, "are you all right?"

   But John was lying there looking at Susan and somewhere the anger rose in him again. "Garibaldi is bringing my dad here?" John managed to say.

   "Yes. Is that a problem?" Susan asked.

   John was slowly sitting up much to Delenn's disapproval. And with as much anger in his voice as he could will himself to use he said, "I won't have that treasonous bastard wandering around MY station! I don't want Mister Garibaldi anywhere near me or my father!"

   He had at one time trusted his life to Michael Garibaldi. Now he didn't want anything to do with him. John figured that if Garibaldi set him up once, he would do it again. They had come to blows once already when Garibaldi had hit him. And it had taken all of John's self control not to hit him back. Now Garibaldi was bringing his dad here. 'Garibaldi, why you?' John thought. 'Of all people to bring my dad here, why you?'

   Susan and Delenn stood there watching him. Then they realized that John didn't know what had happened to Michael.

   "Please, John, calm down." Delenn said to him. She was standing in front of him so he wouldn't get on his feet. Delenn knew he wasn't strong enough to stand.

   "Captain, you don't understand. You don't know what happened," Susan told him.

   "I know he was responsible for THIS!" John said looking down at himself. He was sitting with his feet over the side of the bed. He had at least a weeks growth of beard and his hair was in disarray. He couldn't remember the last time he had a shower or something to eat. And to top it off, he still felt lousy.

   He was trying to get his feet on the floor, but Delenn wouldn't move from in front of him. It was as if she wanted to make him sit there and listen. "And I want him tossed in the brig as soon as he gets here!" he finished.

   Delenn realized that no matter what anyone said about Michael Garibaldi, John was in no mood to listen. Then she noticed the expression on his face change.

   His anger disappeared when he had seen the two men enter MedLab. At that moment, he no longer cared what he looked like or how he felt.

   Michael Garibaldi was standing in the doorway of MedLab, but that wasn't who John was looking at.

   "Dad?" was all he could say. Delenn and Susan both turned around.

   David Sheridan stood there looking around. Then seeing John through the window of the cubicle, he made his way there. John just sat on the bed. He couldn't believe he was looking at his dad. Delenn stepped away from him as the older Sheridan came in the room. She put her hand on John's leg as if to steady him. But it wouldn't have mattered. John had tears running down his face. And as if no one else was there, David came right up to John and hugged him.

   "Johnny! God, its good to see you," David Sheridan managed to say.

   John, putting his arms around his dad, looked up to see Michael standing in the doorway of the cubicle. He silently mouthed the words, 'Thank you.' At that moment all the anger he had for Michael was gone. But for some reason John wasn't sure if it had really been there.

   Michael just watched the Captain and Mr. Sheridan. There wasn't much he could say or do at the moment. He was just glad that in spite of what had happened, everything had worked out.

   It was a few days later when John was released from MedLab. He was feeling almost back to normal. And he felt that the Universe had somehow made things all right, at least for a little while.

   John and his dad were getting to know each other again. Delenn had only talked with John briefly over the last couple of days. She wanted to give them some time together because she knew that John needed it.

   John and his dad were talking over breakfast one morning when the door chimed. "Come," John said, and turning to his dad. "I hope it's Delenn. I haven't seen much of her the last couple of days." It was as if the Universe was listening, for Delenn walked through the door.

   "Good morning," she said to them. Delenn noticed that John was in his bathrobe. She also noticed that they were having breakfast and she asked if she could join them. But David Sheridan knew that she didn't have to ask. The look on his son's face spoke volumes to him. His son was in love with this woman as much as this woman was in love with his son. And a warm feeling came over him. It was somehow right and he couldn't have been happier for them.

   "I'll leave you two alone," David said, getting up out of his chair. "Johnny, I'll be with Susan. She said she would give me a tour of the station." But he had the feeling his son never heard a word he said.

   John and Delenn never really heard what David said. They were preoccupied with each other. They hadn't spent a lot of time together since John was released from MedLab. Delenn thought it was better for John to spend time with his father. She knew that they needed some time alone so she gave it to them. But now she wanted to see John. She missed him.

   So she decided she would stop by and see how they were doing. Now she was very happy about that decision. Because John had his arms around her, holding her in a gentle embrace.

   "I'm glad you stopped by. I was starting to think you were never going to see me again," John said, but it was only in teasing. He knew how she felt about him and he had the same feelings for her. He loved her more every day.

   "John, you knew I would see you again," she replied taking the bait. "But if you wish me to leave you alone, I can do that too." And she tried to get out of his arms. John had other ideas. He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. She responded by moving her arms around his neck and running her fingers through his hair.

   When they parted lips, Delenn looked up at John. 'He looks tired,' she thought. "John, you should rest."

   "Yea, guess I am kind of tired. It's just that after being in MedLab for so long, it feels good to be up and around. Not to mention how good it feels to hold you in my arms," he said pulling her closer.

   "Why don't you go lie down for a little while. You're still in your bathrobe so you don't have to change." Delenn really liked the robe he was wearing. It was folded across his torso but open enough so she could run her hands over his bare chest. And she noticed how much he really liked it when she did.

   "No, I would rather spend time with you." But then a yawn crept up on him. Delenn smiled at his attempt to hide it.

   She then took his hand and led him to the bedroom. She got him to lie down on the bed, but she knew he wouldn't fall asleep that easily. So she lay down on the bed next to him. He had rolled onto his side away from her. Delenn cuddled up behind him, gently running her fingers through his hair.

   He closed his eyes, letting his breathing even out. Delenn could feel his body relax. She snuggled up closer to him whispering reassuring words.

   "It's all right. I'm here. And I will stay with you until you fall asleep."

   "Okay," he managed to say, sleep creeping into his voice. Delenn knew that John was going to sleep for a few hours just by the way he gave in so quickly.

   Delenn stayed with him. Then hearing the BabCom sound, she got up to answer it. It was Doctor Stephen Franklin asking about Sheridan. After Delenn said that he was sleeping and would tell John he had called, she went back to the bedroom to check on John.

   But something was wrong.

   He had rolled onto his back. His breathing had increased. His brow was wet with sweat. And he was acting like he was trying to fight with something. Delenn had seen this before on the White Star. He was dreaming, only it wasn't pleasant dreams.

   It was nightmares.

   John had told her he was sleeping okay at night. Now she knew it was a lie. 'No wonder he looked so tired,' she thought.

   She was still standing in the doorway to the bedroom, when he sat bolt up right in bed. He was screaming, his eyes focused on some part of his nightmare.

   Delenn made her way to him, grabbing for his hands, but just as they made contact with his he lashed out. At that point he woke up, his eyes focused on Delenn. She was on the floor, tears in her eyes, holding the side of her face.

   John had struck out at something in his dream, only he had actually hit Delenn instead.

   "Oh God, Delenn!" John exclaimed. But when he got out of bed to kneel next to her, she flinched away from him. "Delenn, I'm sorry. I...I didn't mean..." but his voice trailed off. Tears welled in his eyes as he realized that he had actually hurt her. When she looked up at him, John actually saw fear in her eyes. And then that fear was gone. He reached again for her and this time she reached for him. John then hugged her closely telling her how sorry he was.

   John helped Delenn slowly get to her feet. He noticed she was shaking so he held her in his arms. He then got her to sit on the bed while he went to the kitchen to get some ice. Delenn's tears had almost stopped when he came back to the bedroom, but John could see a bruise forming on her face. It was going to be hard to explain to anyone what had happened.

   "You never talked about what happened on Z'ha'dum. I think you should tell the others before you're unable to sleep at all," Delenn said.

   "Yea, I guess you're right. Come on, we'll call from the other room." And John helped Delenn out to the living room and settled her on the sofa.

   John placed the call to C&C asking Lt. Corwin to contact the others and have them meet him in his quarters.

   The first to arrive was Susan with John's dad in tow. David Sheridan came through the door, looked at Delenn, and noticed that she had been crying. He also noticed the icepack.

   "John, did you...?" But he couldn't finish. David Sheridan just knew his son would never strike a woman, no matter what. He had taught him better.

   John was sitting on the sofa next to Delenn. She was still holding the icepack on her cheek. He looked up at his dad. "No, Dad, I was having a bad dream. Delenn tried to wake me up. I didn't do it on purpose." John still didn't feel better about it even knowing it was an accident. "I love her, Dad. I would never hurt her."

   "I know, son, I know," David said. He came over to Delenn and asked if she was all right. Delenn looked up at David. 'There is that Sheridan compassion,' Delenn thought. But she only nodded her head indicating that she was all right.

   When the others arrived Delenn was feeling better. But Stephen wanted a closer look. He was checking Delenn's bruise to see if there was anything seriously wrong. He smiled at her indicating that she would be all right.

   John slowly looked around the room at his friends. "We asked you here because Delenn felt I needed to talk about what happened at Z'ha'dum. I think she is right. The only one aside from Delenn who knows some of it is Stephen. And his oath prohibits him from saying anything, so I guess it's up to me." He paused, taking a deep breath. "I'm not sure where to begin. I'm beginning to see how much you really care about me." He paused as if thinking back on fond memories. "Guess I've always known."

   "Tell them, John," Delenn pushed. She knew that aside from Lorien and Stephen she was the only one that knew.

   "Are you sure?" John asked of Delenn. He could still see the look on her face when Lorien had told her. He wasn't sure if he wanted to see that look again.

   "No, but they need to know." She wasn't ready to hear it again either. But the others had a right to know.

   John took a deep breath, looked at Delenn, then his father. 'Dad, I hope you can handle this,' he thought. David Sheridan had told John what had happened to him, now John was going to add to that pain.

   "When," John took another deep breath, "when Anna showed up here and I found out she was working for the Shadows, it was clear what I had to do. Going to Z'ha'dum wasn't a decision that was easy to make. I knew it was a trap and so did Delenn." He looked at Delenn. She had turned her eyes away from him as if studying the floor. He put an arm around her knowing she would need the comfort of his embrace. But she had been right, they needed to know. "Before sending a signal to the White Star to self destruct with two thermonuclear devices onboard, I was standing on a balcony. It overlooked a huge city. I guess it was their capital. As I was standing there a couple of Shadows were coming up behind me. Suddenly I heard a voice in my head say 'jump.' I recognized the voice. It was Kosh. He said 'jump' again, so I did." He closed his eyes feeling himself falling again.

   "Kosh?" Susan said, shock in her voice.

   "Yes. Ever since his death I had been dreaming about him. Now I understand that it wasn't just dreams. It was him. I had been carrying a part of Kosh inside me, apparently for some time." John felt the loss of his mentor as he did when Kosh was killed. But he wasn't sad because he knew that Kosh had passed beyond the rim.

   "There's more isn't there?" David asked. He had taken a seat next to John on the arm of the sofa.

   "Yes, I didn't want to tell you this way. I've been trying to find the right words or the right time, but I guess now is the time." John knew that he was going to hurt his dad with what he was going to say. It had been tearing Delenn apart far too long and she hadn't said anything to anyone about it. "After I jumped I fell into an abyss. It was about two miles deep. I should have died, but I didn't. Someone caught me. It was Lorien." And turning to his dad, he explained who Lorien was.

   "He told me that he couldn't create life, but he could 'breathe on the remaining embers'. Guess I wasn't really dead, but close to it. So he saved my life, but it came with a price." He stopped, scared to continue.

   "A price? Just what did it cost you?" Michael asked. He had been standing there listening. Now he took more of an interest in the conversation.

   John reached over to his dad and put his hand on his arm. His dad had always been there for him. Now it was his turn to be there for his dad.

   "The 'price' was high - too damn high. And there wasn't anything I could do about it. The Shadow War was still going on. I knew that's where I was supposed to be. So Lorien, he helped the only way he knew how." He paused trying to calm his heart. "I thought fighting legends was hard. I was wrong. THIS is harder." He looked at his friends, "He did something to me, gave me something. There's some kind of a bio-chemical in my system. I don't exactly know what it is, but it gave me back a portion of my life." He stopped again, taking another deep breath. "I only have twenty years to live." John closed his eyes, he just didn't want to see their faces. The silence was enough for him to know that it had shocked them. But there was some other sound in the room as well.

   When John opened his eyes, his dad had gotten up and walked away from the sofa. His face was buried in his hands. 'Damn!' John thought. 'I've done this to him.'

   "Dad, you okay?" John asked. He felt guilty about having to tell him this way. He had wanted to tell him when they were alone, but he never had gotten the courage to do it. Now he was watching his dad cry and there wasn't much he could do to help him.

   "I...I don't know," David said. "I always believed that you would live a long life after your mom and I were gone, but that's not going to happen now." His heart was breaking.

   "I know, Dad, and I'm sorry. But I look at it this way. I have twenty more years than I would have had. And right now," John looked over at Delenn, "right now I'll take any amount of time I can get." John stood up and walked over to his dad. He still had his back to John. John placed his hands on his dad's shoulders. "I'm sorry, Dad. I know this wasn't easy, but I could have died at Z'ha'dum. I know that twenty years isn't long, but if that's all the time I have, I'll take it. I have good friends here and someone I love. Believe it or not, it helps to know that they are here."

   "I don't believe it, Captain!" Susan said, anger in her voice. "There has to be something we can do!"

   John knew that Susan would take this hard, but to hear her voice, it hurt him. "There is nothing that can be done. After I came back Stephen ran a series of tests on me. He didn't recognize the...the...whatever it is that's in my system." He paused there and turned around, looking at the Susan. "Susan, I accepted this and so has Delenn. I need to know you can too."

   Susan just stood there looking from John to Delenn. "I'll try, John," she said. "I'll really try." And John could see unshed tears in her eyes. But he nodded to her as if accepting her answer. Michael hadn't said much and John wondered what was going through his mind. He had already talked it out with Stephen after he had gotten the results back. Stephen hadn't been happy with what he saw, but he tried to accept it and move on. He knew that the Captain would tell everyone else when he felt they needed to know.

   "Michael?" John inquired. They had been rebuilding their friendship while John was still in MedLab. Now that friendship was being tested.

   "I feel like you've just kicked me in the head," Michael said. "How much more are we going to have to go through?"

   "I understand. Keeping this from you, from all of you, wasn't easy. Do you think I wanted to? Do you think that I wanted to tell my dad about this?" Now John was starting to feel the fire in his belly, something that had been missing since the Shadow War ended and the fight with Earth had started. "But I knew that if I had said something you would think I had lost my mind. And I needed you to stand by me, without fear, and you did." Looking to Delenn, he said, "I think we can get the job done and free Earth, but there is one thing that I want to do first."

   "What is so important that you feel the need to put it first - before Earth?" David asked. He had calmed down enough to take an interest in his surroundings. What John had told him hurt, but knowing his son had already accepted his fate made him move on.

   John turned back to Delenn and reached for her hand. She took his and he helped her to her feet. "Delenn, I respect your wishes to be joined in accordance with your peoples ways. But I don't have that kind of time. I want to marry you. Here. Now. Before I go back to Earth and finish what we started." He was looking into Delenn's eyes. They were filled with love but also with a sadness too. Delenn looked at John, knowing he was right.

   "Join with me." And a smile came across her features. John didn't really care who was watching. He leaned down and kissed Delenn.

   "Well, I guess we have a wedding to plan," Stephen said. The response from everyone was worth making the remark. It had lightened the mood and being a doctor, he knew that's what was needed.

 

 *****

 

 

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