THE PATH HOME (III)

By Jennie Moore

 

 

 

 

 *****

The next day Susan was helping Delenn get a wedding dress together. David, Stephen, and Michael were working to keep John's feet on the ground. There was just no keeping the smile off John's face. They all knew what was going to happen shortly after the wedding, so they were keeping busy trying not to think about it. John had made his way, unnoticed, to Delenn's quarters. He rang the chime but it wasn't Delenn that answered, it was Susan.

   "John, you know it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, so what are you doing here?" Susan asked. She didn't want to open the door for fear that John might see something.

   "Susan, I have a note for Delenn. I'll leave it outside the door. See that she gets it."

   "All right. Now go away, John."

   John left the note and headed back to his quarters. It was still about three hours till the wedding and he was starting to feel a little jumpy. 'No, John Sheridan, you will not get cold feet,' he kept telling himself.

   Susan had handed the note to Delenn and then gone back to working on her dress. Delenn gasped as she started to read the note.

   Delenn,

   I wanted to say these words to you but somehow I could never get them out. I seem to loose some of my senses when I'm around you. And today is no different. In a short time you will become my wife. I feel like the luckiest man alive. We have gone through so much together - from breaking away from Earth, to a Shadow War, to Civil Wars on both our worlds. And somewhere in there we fell in love. But the words I'm having trouble saying were easier to write down. I'm not a poet, but this comes from the heart.

   I knew I'd found my life's calling when you spoke my name. From that moment on, the reason I was born became so very plain. Now my heart and soul's one and only goal is to bring you happiness. Loving you is what I do the best.

   Some may live to change the world and that's all right with me. My hat's off to those chosen few who rewrite history. But just to make you smile, that is how I'll measure my success 'cause loving you is what I do the best.

   It's a lucky man who understands where his true talents lie and the first time I held you, I realized that there's one thing I do better than all the rest. Loving you is what I do the best.

   I will always love you, Delenn, till the end of time.

   John

   Susan looked up to see tears running down Delenn's face. But it was happy tears and Susan knew that John had written something from his heart. 'I hope someday I can find someone to love me like John loves Delenn,' she thought.

   Susan was working on Delenn's hair. She only had about two hours left before the wedding and she wanted Delenn's hair perfect. Delenn was enjoying the attention. 'Finally! Someone else to do my hair,' she thought. Susan watched in the mirror as a smile played across Delenn's face.

   "I suppose you find this amusing?" Susan inquired, but it wouldn't have mattered. Susan was doing this as much for Delenn as she was for John. At the thought of John, she asked Delenn about the letter.

   "I'll let you read it when you're done with my hair." She wasn't sure if John would approve, but Delenn wanted to share what he had written. 'John, do you know how much I love you?' Delenn thought.

   "So who is walking you down the aisle?" Susan didn't know if Delenn had asked someone or not.

   "I didn't know that was required," Delenn replied, puzzled.

   "Well, Lennier is off station right now. What about Michael? He did help get John back and I think he would be honored to do it." Susan noticed that Delenn was thinking about it.

   "Would you contact Mister Garibaldi?" Delenn asked Susan. She wanted Lennier to be a part of the ceremony, but he was taking care of some personal business on Minbar.

   "Sure." Susan then went to the ComStation and placed the call. A few minutes later Michael Garibaldi was at Delenn's door.

   "It's okay, Susan, I'm alone," Michael said after Susan asked who it was. When the door had closed behind him, Delenn came out of the bedroom. Michael's breath caught in his throat.

   "Ambassador, you look terrific," he said with a grin on his face. "The Captain is one lucky man."

   "Thank you, Mister Garibaldi," Delenn replied, bowing her head slightly.

   "You asked to see me? What's up?"

   "I have a favor to ask."

   "Sure, what's his name? I'll take care of him." Michael was only kidding around, but the look he got from Delenn just made him grin wider. "Sorry, bad joke."

   "I see." Delenn looked over at Susan who was hard pressed not to laugh. "Michael, I really do have something to ask you. Would you walk me down the aisle?"

   Michael's jaw suddenly hit the floor. Of all the things she had asked before, this shocked him. "Delenn, I would be honored to walk you down the aisle." Then Michael walked over to Delenn and gave her a hug. Delenn gave him a kiss on the cheek.

   "Thank you," she said. "I'm sure John would approve."

   John was finishing getting ready when he noticed a boutonniere sitting on the dresser. 'Now where did that come from?' he asked himself. He picked it up, inhaling its scent. "It's even real," he said out loud.

   "Well, of course it's real."

   Startled by the sound of a voice, John turned to see who was there. His breath caught in his throat when his eyes met hers. If it wasn't for the dresser, he would have collapsed on the floor. He couldn't believe who he was looking at.

   She walked over to John and hugged him tightly. John leaned down, putting his head on her shoulder. He managed to say one word before tears ran down his cheeks, "Mom."

   "Did you think I was going to miss your wedding?" Katherine said. She was crying too, but they were tears of joy. She thought she would never see her son again. Not only was she reunited with John, she was also reunited with her husband. And John was getting married again. This all just seemed right somehow.

   John reluctantly released her, asking if his dad knew she was here. But then another question entered his mind. "How did you get here?"

   "When word of your rescue reached me there were already two Rangers with me. They got me to a shuttle and brought me here. I only arrived about twenty minutes ago. And I've spoken with your father. He knows I'm here."

   "Those Rangers are quiet a group, Mom. They helped rescue me and they got Dad off Earth and to Mars. Although they tried to keep him safe, something went wrong. He had been captured too. But they helped get him out. And now they got you here. But all that's in the past. I'm just glad you're both safe."

   "I'm just thankful you and your father are safe." Then Katherine remembered what was taking place in a little while. "Don't you have someone waiting for you?" And she smiled at John.

   "Delenn," John said. "Mom, wait till you meet her. You're gonna love her."

   Katherine stood back, looking at her son. There was no denying it, John was in love. "I'm sure I will, John. Now let's go before you're late for your wedding." Katherine took John's arm and they left his quarters.

   Delenn and Susan had already arrived at the Chapel. They wanted to get there before John, which they did. Susan was helping Delenn with last minute details which included some babybreath in her hair.

   "You look beautiful," Susan told her as she stood back looking at Delenn.

   A knock on the door got their attention. Susan opened the door and Michael was standing there. Susan's eyes opened wide. He was wearing his Army of Light uniform with full decorations and a rose pinned to the collar.

   "It's time." And he offered his arm to Delenn.

   Delenn smiled at Michael, putting her hand through the offered elbow, and they headed to the main chapel.

   They paused at the entrance and Michael turned to Delenn. "There's this guy I know. He's waiting for you in there."

   Delenn turned and looked at Michael, tears forming in her eyes. "I know." And then soft music started to play as they walked through the door and down the aisle. Delenn smiled wider as she saw John with his dad at the front of the chapel.

   The chapel was decorated with roses. On one wall hung the Ranger banner and on the other hung the Army of Light banner. Rangers lined the walls around the chapel. All the Ambassadors were present including G'Kar. He was sitting close to the front of the chapel where John had asked him to sit.

   Delenn wanted to look at everything, but her eyes kept going to John's. She was smiling so much that her face was starting to hurt. When they had gotten to the front, Michael turned to John and gave him Delenn's hand. John took her hand and they turned to face Brother Theo who was doing the ceremony. Michael turned and took a seat next to Susan and Stephen who were in the front row with John's mom.

   "Gentle beings," Theo started, "we are gathered here to witness the joining of these two hearts. This union is not to be taken lightly, but with faith in each other. I understand that you have written your own vows." Theo motioned for them to turn and face each other.

   "Yes," John said. Looking at Delenn, he took a breath and said the vows that they had written a few months ago.

   "When I first saw you, something inside of me came alive. It was my heart. I didn't think I was capable of falling in love again, but you made it so easy. When I look back at the things we've done together, I realize that we did them because we were together. I don't think I would have had the strength to get through without you. You've done so much for me. You made it rain. You caught me when I fell. No one else could have done that. A long time ago my dad told me if you're falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly. With you I found my wings. I love you, Delenn, from now till the end of time. And when we pass beyond the Veil, we'll be together where no shadows fall." When John finished, he saw a single tear running down Delenn's cheek. It took a bit of self control not to wipe it away.

   Delenn took a few seconds to compose herself. Then she started her part of the vows.

   "Prophecy taught us that we would be united with the other half of our soul and I believed in this. But sometimes you have to follow your heart. I know we were meant to be together, but I didn't know it also included falling in love with you. I believed in the teachings of Valen, but I have now turned to you for guidance. You taught me how to stand on my own when I need to, but also to rely on you to show me that my decisions were the right ones. And even if they were wrong, you were still there. When I thought I had lost you, I felt I had lost a part of myself. But my heart knew you would come back. I love you, John, from now till the end time. And when we pass beyond the Veil, we'll be together where no shadows fall." When Delenn finished she saw that John's eyes had teared up.

   "John, do you take Delenn into the protection of your heart and soul till death takes one from the other?" Theo asked.

   "I do." And John took Delenn's left hand and put the wedding band on her third finger which had the engagement ring.

   "Delenn, do you take John into the protection of your heart and soul till death takes one from the other?"

   "I do." Delenn then took John's left hand and put his wedding ring on the third finger.

   "By the power of God, may no one come between you. May you live under the house of God till your time to ascend into Heaven has come. May you love no other than the one you have pledged yourself to. John and Delenn, I now pronounce you Man and Wife. You may kiss your bride, John, if you feel so inclined."

   John didn't need to hear that a second time. He leaned down and kissed Delenn full on the lips - a very long, passionate kiss. When they finally parted, Brother Theo announced to the crowd.

   "Gentle beings, may I present Mister and Misses John Sheridan."

   As John and Delenn turned to walk out of the chapel, all their friends stood up and started to cheer. It was such a joyful sound that the couple stopped, turned to face each other, and kissed again. That was when the hoops and hollers got louder. They stopped at the door and greeted everyone as they exited the chapel. At one point John made the comment, "If I keep shaking hands with everyone, I'm not going to have any strength to hold Delenn." That statement got a few chuckles and an elbow in the ribs from Delenn. John only turned and laughed at her. After everyone had left, John and Delenn, along with John's parents, headed to what was now known as the Ranger Hall. That was where the reception was taking place.

   Ranger Hall was decorated with streamers, balloons, and a banner that read, 'Congratulations John and Delenn' and was over a table along one wall. At the other table was the food, both human and minbari. At one end was the cake, two tier, with roses decorating the top of both layers. Delenn smiled when she saw the little statues of the 'bride and groom' on the top.

   The mood in the room was light. All those in attendance were laughing or joking with each other. John thought at one point he heard Susan say, "It's about time he married her."

   "Is it my imagination or did everyone expect this a long time ago?" John asked Delenn.

   "I think they knew it was just a matter of time. But don't let them know. I think they enjoyed watching the chase." And Delenn reached up with both hands to put them around his neck.

   "Every time I look at you, I feel my heart skip a beat," John said. He then leaned down and kissed Delenn. Then he took her hand and led her out of the room and into the hall. He looked around to see if anyone was out there. He said a small prayer of thanks that the hall was empty. Then he had Delenn leaning up against a wall while he kissed her deeply, letting her know how he felt, what she meant to him, and what would await later that night.

   They must have been missed because Katherine was suddenly in the hall watching them. "Excuse me. Do you two think you can bring yourselves back in here and cut the cake?"

   John only turned to her and somewhat sheepishly said, "Yes, Mom, just give us a few minutes and we'll be right there." Turning back to Delenn he said, "Guess we better get back. We don't want to miss our own wedding reception." But for some reason Delenn had other ideas. She reached again for John's face.

   "Let them wait a few minutes." Delenn kissed John this time. Slow, long, passionate, and filled with as much love as she could will herself to show him. When they finally parted lips, John looked deeply into Delenn's eyes.

   "If you keep this up, I won't want to go back," John said somewhat out of breath.

   "Then we will say goodnight early."

   At that John took Delenn's hand and went back to the reception. He was still feeling a little light headed from the last kiss, but it didn't matter. He knew that Delenn loved him and she had shown him exactly how much. 'How can one person put that much passion in a kiss,' he thought. When they had entered the room some people noticed that John looked a little embarrassed. No one wanted to say anything, but Michael spoke up.

   "So, starting the honeymoon a little early?" That statement made Delenn blush and got an annoyed look from John.

   "Just ignore him, Delenn." And they walked to the table where the cake was. John had a feeling that Delenn didn't understand what cutting the cake was about, so he leaned down and whispered to her that it was just a 'human tradition'.

   After the cake was cut and the toasts to the couple complete, John and Delenn only had one other thing that they had to do to finish the 'traditional' wedding: the dance. John had picked one of his favorite songs - one he knew was slow enough that Delenn would be able to dance to. When the music started, he took Delenn's hand and led her to the dance floor. As they swayed to the music, their friends and family watched.

   John looked over at his parents and winked at his dad. David smiled back at his son, then put his arm around Katherine. John turned his eyes back to Delenn and whispered in her ear.

   "I don't think I've ever seen my parents this happy." And he kissed Delenn on the cheek.

   When John and Delenn felt they had spent enough time at the reception, they bid farewell to everyone and exited Ranger Hall.

   After the couple left the party, most of the guests decided it was time to call it a night. By early evening the only ones left where the Command staff, David and Katherine Sheridan, and Ambassador G'Kar.

   David Sheridan thought it was strange how his son could count the aliens as his friends.

   When G'Kar heard that, he proceeded to tell David how his son vowed to help free his people after the Centauri had enslaved his home world.

   "Every promise Captain Sheridan has ever made, he's kept. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and Ambassador Delenn. I don't think any of us would have survived if it hadn't been for them."

   "When the Captain came back from Z'ha'dum, something in him had changed. It was like he didn't believe he could fail. I'm the one who almost failed him though," Michael said. "Damn Psi-Cops. They got a hold of me and changed me into someone I wasn't. I resigned my position here, I came to blows with the Captain, and I was the one that set him up to be captured by Clark's forces." Michael paused. It was the first time he had admitted this to himself, let alone others. "I just sat there and watched him get beat up. It was like seeing things from the outside. I don't think I'll ever forget the look on his face just before he passed out."

   "Michael, it wasn't your fault. And John doesn't blame you for what happened," Susan told him. She knew that John had forgiven Michael and that he put all his anger toward the right person: President Clark. That was when Katherine spoke up and asked what exactly they were talking about. David hadn't told her about John having only twenty years to live.

   So as the night moved on, everyone recounted the events that led up to the wedding. They all seemed to have had different stories or bits of information that they talked about. It was at the point where the Shadow War had ended when Katherine broke down and started to cry.

   "I had no idea of what my son has been through, but I do know one thing. He has picked his friends wisely. And for that I'm grateful." Everyone could see that Katherine was beginning to understand just how important John was to all of them.

   The newlyweds headed towards John's quarters, walking arm in arm. John could tell that Delenn was nervous just by the way she was so quiet. When they reached their destination John put his keycard in the slot, but stopped Delenn from stepping into the room.

   "Wait a second," he said as he put his card in his pocket. "I want to do this right." And to Delenn's surprise, John picked her up in his arms and stepped through the door. "Just another human tradition." Then he kissed Delenn as the door closed behind them - shutting out the party, the station, and all their worries. They both knew that from now till morning, the time was theirs.

   John carried Delenn into the bedroom, slowly lowered her to the bed, and lay down beside her. He looked into her eyes, seeing the emotions play behind them.

   "Its all right, Delenn. We both knew this night would come," he spoke softly to her. "We can take it slow." He then took possession of her lips and kissed her tenderly, deeply, while his hand ran through her hair.

   Delenn was touched by John's concern. She had dreamed about this night, but she only knew of the actions not the emotions. But as John kissed her, she let her mind go. Before she even realized what was happening they both had their clothes off, and John was gently moving to cover her body with his.

   They didn't know how much time had passed since they started making love. Hours seemed like minutes and when they finally fell asleep from exhaustion, they were wrapped spoon fashion with John having his arms around Delenn.

   Sometime in the middle of the night, Delenn woke up. She could feel John's breath on her neck and his arms wrapped around her. Smiling to herself, she snuggled closer to him, feeling the warmth of his body next to hers. Then she realized that for the first time in weeks that John was sleeping soundly. And as sleep took her again, one last thought entered her mind: 'no more nightmares.'

   John felt Delenn snuggle closer. He shifted a little to wrap his arms tighter. And with a soft sigh went back to sleep with all the day's events replaying themselves in his head. 'Old souls, indeed,' he thought.

   When morning arrived, Delenn woke with the feel of a warm hand moving up and down her arm. And John whispering in her ear, "Morning sleepy head." Then he gently kissed her cheek.

   "Good morning," she said as she rolled over to face him. "How did you sleep?"

   Smiling at Delenn, he said ,"I was so worn out that all I could do was sleep. I've never made love with someone that put so much passion in it." His smile got wider as he remember the events of last night. "If I didn't know better, I would think you were trying to kill me off last night." As soon as the words were out, he regretted saying them. There was no denying the look in Delenn's eyes. "I'm..I'm sorry, Delenn. I should have never said that."

   But Delenn got up, grabbed her robe, and headed for the bathroom, crying. John heard the first sob as the door closed. Tears filled his eyes as he felt his heart breaking. 'How could I say that to her?' he thought. It was going to be hard to forget the look in her eyes at that moment.

   He got up, put his robe on, and went to the bathroom door. John could hear her crying as he slowly opened it.

   She was leaning up against the sink, hands to her face, crying. "Delenn, honey, I'm sorry," he said to her, taking her hands in his and pulling them away from her face. He then guided her out of the bathroom and back to the bed. They sat down next to each other with John holding her hands in his.

   "Delenn, we can't let this hang over our heads for the next twenty years. It's going to make it hard to enjoy our life together the way I want to."

   "I told you I was not okay with this. I've tried to put it aside, but sometimes when I look at you I hear those words." And Delenn's eyes teared up again but she didn't let the tears fall.

   "I'll be here for you, for as long as I can. I promise." He then wrapped his arm around her. "Delenn, I love you, more than you'll ever know. I don't want us to waste what we have. If we do, when the time does come, I'll feel it was all for nothing." His eyes were now tearing up. "Please, I don't want to live my life like that. I want to live every minute with you I can. And if we are lucky, you won't be alone."

   She looked up at him, not understanding what he meant.

   "I want a family, Delenn. I don't want to leave you alone. I want to be able to leave a part of me behind. " He saw a strange look in her eyes. "At least, I hope we can have children."

   Delenn never thought about children. She wasn't even sure she could have them. But if John wanted to try, she wasn't going to deny him that. "If that is what you wish, then how can I say no. I love you but I'm not sure if I'm able to have children." And that was when the tears fell from her eyes.

   The thought of her not being able to have children never entered his mind. After the time slipping, when they were on Babylon 4, he knew that they would have a son. Now he was seeing that image in his mind. 'Our son is safe.'

   "Trust me, Delenn. Everything has a time and place. If we are meant to have kids, we will." He then leaned over and kissed her. "Come on. I have a mission to complete and the shuttle leaves in an hour."

   John got up and headed for the bathroom. Delenn sat on the bed thinking about what they had said to each other. 'He believes so strongly in this. Oh, Valen! Please make it come true for him,' she thought. And as she listened to the shower, she wanted to give him a message that he could take with him, so she went to the other room and wrote one.

   About an hour later John and Michael were getting ready to depart for the White Star 2. As they stood in the departure area, John told Michael to wait a few minutes while he said goodbye.

   "Mom...Dad...I'm sorry to take off so soon. You can stay here. I've seen to that. Take care of each other. Love you, both."

   "I love you too, Son. Just be careful," Katherine told him and took him in her embrace. "Come back soon, for Delenn." John smiled at his mom.

   "Johnny, you take care of yourself. And remember, don't start the fight..," David started to say.

    John finished it for him. "But always finish it. I know, Dad." John then turned to Delenn.

   He took her hand and led her away from the others.

   "You all right after this morning?"

   "Yes." And she handed him an envelope.

   "What's this?"

   "I wrote it for you. Read it when you get to the White Star. I love you. I'm going to miss you." And Delenn reached up to touch his face. He leaned into her hand.

   "I'll be back, Delenn. I promise. Just stay close to Mom and Dad. They'll be here for you."

   "I will." Delenn didn't want him to go.

   "I have to go. I love you, 'Star Stuff'." And a look came across Delenn's face as he called her that. "And I'll be back as soon as I can." John then leaned down and kissed Delenn on the lips. It was a very passionate kiss.

   At that, Michael told John it was time to leave. John slowly walked out of Delenn's arms, waved goodbye to everyone and headed down the ramp.

   Delenn went to the Observation Dome to watch the ship depart. "You are the other half of my soul. Come back to me, John." And she closed her eyes, feeling his lips on hers.

   When they finally reached the White Star, John reached in his pocket and took out the envelope. He walked forward on the bridge and opened the letter. Delenn's voice came into his mind as he read it.

   John,

   I'm writing this while you take your shower. I only wish we could have had more time together, but you've always put the needs of others before yours. That's one thing I love about you. As I said long ago, we are 'Star Stuff'. We are the Universe trying to understand itself. Now I'm trying to understand you. I know in my heart that what you're about to do is important to you, as putting the Grey Council back together was to me.

   Be careful, John. Come back to me. I love you. Do what you must, but remember one thing. You are not alone. You will never be alone again. You will always take a part of me with you, no matter where you go.

   I love you, my husband.

   'Star Stuff'

   John almost laughed out loud when he saw how she had signed the letter. 'No wonder she looked at me so strangely when I called her that.' He then looked up and out the window, watching as the station moved from his view to be replaced by the stars.

   He knew that no matter what was going to happen, no matter where he went, Delenn would be waiting for him. And then he realized he would always find his path home because home was where Delenn was.

 

 *****

 

 

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