A DAUGHTER'S LOVE
By Lara Nicosia
This story came from a dream I had in which I was John and Delenn's daughter. Don't ask me where it came from, but I couldn't forget it once I had it. I decided to write it down. There have been no hints that John and Delenn will ever have a daughter, but fanfic is about the possibilities that can occur. I always wondered what the daughter of John and Delenn would be like. This may be far off, but it was written with the greatest respect for JMS, Bruce Boxleitner, and Mira Furlan. JMS has created one of the most ambitious, well-written, spectacular shows to ever be aired and Boxleitner and Furlan have made the characters of John and Delenn believable and people we care about.
As usual, JMS, Warner Brothers, and/or PTEN (and whoever else is part of whateverlegality it takes to license a program) own the characters. The story, however, is mine.
"Jaylen, don't go wandering off," my mother told me as we walked through the marketplace.
I sighed and fell back, staying close to my parents and older brother. It was hard to walk in the market without wandering around to look at the different booths, to study the different people. The town was neutral territory, a safe place for refugees from other worlds. No other planet could arrest someone that might be wanted until he or she was off planet. As a result, almost every surviving race in the galaxy was represented. Some people had been there for a long time; others were merely passing through. My father said the colony, and especially the area of the town where the market was located, reminded him of the station he and my mother once lived on before the Shadow War.
As we stopped to buy some food from a Drazi merchant, my mother reached over and pulled up my cloak's hood, which had slipped down just slightly. We never went out without our heads covered. My father was the only one who did not always do so, though he preferred to conceal his identity as well. The town might have been neutral, but there were still dangerous people around. There were too many who might want to hurt us if they knew who we were or where we were.
Then my mother gave my arm a reassuring, gentle squeeze. I could see her smile under her own hood which she had pulled down over the top of her face. She understood that I was interested in what was going on around me, she was just concerned for my safety. She always said I was the inquisitive one in the family (which my father said I came by honestly). I was never content until I knew exactly what was going on. I liked to ask questions about things and I carefully observed everything that happened around me. My mother had always been patient with me, answering my many questions the best she could.
But there were times when neither of my parents wanted to answer my questions. Especially when it had to do with certain aspects of the Shadow War.
My father took a bag of bread from the vendor, which he handed to me with a smile. "Here you go, kiddo. You take that."
Even though he smiled, his eyes told a different story. They were eyes that had seen a lot of pain and suffering in his life. There was an untold story of lost dreams. They were tired eyes. The only times I ever saw them really light up was when he looked at me, my brother, or my mother. Especially when he looked at my mother. It was easy to tell they loved each other very much. It was hard to ever imagine them apart from one another. They seemed to understand each other's thoughts and could anticipate each other's needs -- like they had always been destined to be together.
I knew that wasn't always the case. There had been a time when my mother and father would have considered each other enemies. In fact, they said that there had been a war between their two sides years before the Shadow War ever happened. And my father said he had been married once before he met my mother, but he never really talked about her. I knew something had happened years ago that had to do with her and the Shadows, but I didn't know what. It was obviously a painful subject for him and my mother, one they preferred not to discuss.
My father took the last of the items purchased from the Drazi, giving some of them to my brother. As we continued on, he put his arm around my mother's waist.
A large group of people suddenly appeared, pushing us apart without a second thought so they could get through. My mother and father got separated and, before I knew it, I had lost sight of them and my brother. I looked around in horror. There were people everywhere, but I couldn't find them! Quickly, I pushed through the crowd, checking every booth and calling out for them. A rough hand grabbed my arm and I found myself looking up at the ugliest human male I had ever seen.
"Hey, pretty little lady, you interested in some fun?"
Sickened by the implication, I wrenched my arm away and ran away from him, dropping the sack in the process. I didn't stop to pick it up, wanting to get as far away from that man as possible. I pulled my hood down farther over my face as I continued to search for my family. Then I spotted my mother. But she wasn't alone. Two men who looked like they could have been the even uglier brothers of that man near the Trivorian Film Booth had cornered her in an alley. They had some equally ugly-looking knives. I shuddered -- I hated weapons.
But my father and brother were nowhere around, so, without a second thought, I ran into the alley to help my mother.
"Save the Froon! Save the Froon!" I yelled.
The men looked at me like I was crazy.
"Go away, little girl," a man with a buzz cut said. My mother gave me a look that told me to run away, but I ignored her. I wasn't going to leave her to them.
"Save the Froon. They've been displaced during this awful time. Could you find it in your hearts to give a little something to help them?"
"I said get out of here! This doesn't concern you!" Buzz-cut shoved me away, causing my hood to fall back as I tried to keep my balance. They gasped when they saw me. "It's the daughter!"
As Buzz-cut and the other man advanced toward me, it suddenly occurred to me to scream. I didn't care if other people saw me. It was more important to save my mother.
"You little brat!" Buzz-cut picked me up, holding his knife up to my face. There were footsteps behind me, causing Buzz-cut to throw me.
I hit the alley wall with a thud. The last thing I remember was my mother rushing over to me as everything went black.
My head hurt.
That was the first thing I realized as I began regaining consciousness. Then I heard the voices of my parents.
"They knew my name. They knew who we are."
"They've found us, Delenn. I had hoped we would be able to stay here a little while longer, but we have to leave."
"We knew a long time ago that we wouldn't be able to stay anywhere long."
"I know, but David and Jaylen . . ."
"We're doing this for them." My father sighed. "I have to go talk to Amis about getting us out of here."
"John, wait. Don't go yet. Wait until Jaylen wakes up."
I slowly opened my eyes to see them looking down at me, concerned looks on their faces. "I'm awake," I said softly.
My mother let out a sigh of relief as she leaned forward and placed her hand on my head. My father kneeled down next to her.
"Hey, kiddo. How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Like a Minbari heavy cruiser decided to use me as target practice," I answered, wishing that someone would stop the pounding.
"Well, you sound like yourself. Are you sure she's not Garibaldi's kid?"
My mother shook her head as she decided to ignore my father's joke. "You should be all right, Jaylen. But what you did was stupid. Brave, but stupid. You're definitely a Sheridan." I think my father did a double take at my mother's deadpan comment. "You should never have tried to help me by yourself. That man would have killed you if those Antareans and your father hadn't been attracted by your screams."
"I couldn't let them hurt you," I told her.
My mother didn't say anything to that. Instead, she just rested her forehead against mine as a few tears fell down her face. She knew she would probably be either dead or something worse. I could be dead, too. It was something none of us wanted to think about.
My father reached up and took my hand, squeezing it. We didn't say anything for a few minutes, until he finally got up. "I have to go talk to Amis now. We have to get out of here as soon as possible."
My mother nodded as he leaned down to kiss her. "Be careful."
"I will. I'm going to take David with me, just in case. You two stay here."
After my father left, my mother helped me to sit up and gave me some pain medication. The pounding in my head slowly started to go away.
"Better?" she asked.
I nodded. I reached up and took her hand, telling her in Minbari, /I love you very much, Mother. I didn't want to lose you./
She smiled. /And I never want to lose you./
I think I had fallen asleep because the next thing I knew my mother was shaking me and telling me to get up. She pressed my cloak into my hands. "Put this on, quickly."
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Those men from the alley are here. I saw them coming into the building. We have to get out of here now."
Without another word, I threw my cloak on and drew the hood over my head. My mother opened my bedroom window and motioned for me to follow her out onto the ledge. It was our only possible escape route. The men had come in the main entrance so there was no way we could out that way without running into them.
"Where's Dad and David?"
"They haven't come back yet."
I could tell my mother was trying to hide the concern in her voice. Had my father and brother been found and hurt by those men? I tried not to think about that as I crawled out on the ledge. It was wide enough for a person to walk on, but it was still a bit disconcerting to be three stories up. In the apartment, I heard the noises of someone forcing the door open. I focused on my mother and tried not to look down as we moved along the ledge as quickly as we could.
Then I heard Buzz-cut yelling, "There they are! You go back outside and cut them off! We can't let them get away this time!"
I couldn't help it and glanced back -- Buzz-cut was in my bedroom window. He started to climb out after us. My mother saw this and began moving faster to a nearby drainpipe. As we started climbing down, he tried to snag my cloak. I pulled away roughly, almost losing my balance. My mother reached up and steadied me, but we didn't stop for a moment. Once we made it to the ground, we took off running as the other man came out the entrance.
I had to ignore the screams of protest in my upper body that told me to stop and rest. The pain medication was starting to wear off. My mother and I ran through the streets in the direction of the spaceport, knowing that my father would have gone there to find Amis and get us passage off the planet.
Turning a corner, we ran into a Drazi funeral.
It seemed like every Drazi in the town was in the street, totally blocking it off for the funeral parade. They were chanting and singing in Drazi. We had to stop behind them -- there was absolutely no way to get around.
"What are we going to do?" I asked.
"Maybe we lost them," my mother said hopefully.
No such luck, as my father would say. I saw Buzz-cut and his friend appear at one of the side streets. They were separated from us by the throng of Drazi, but it was still too close. They immediately spotted us. We stood out among the dark Drazi wearing our light brown cloaks. Quickly, they began pushing through the gathered crowd.
"Come on, this way," my mother said, taking my hand.
We ducked through the crowd and made our way to closest building. My mother was obviously hoping that we could find somewhere inside to hide. The building was one of the older ones on the planet, a rundown place where vagrants lived. We found ourselves dodging people lying in the hallways and on the stairs. There was no place to hide. No one would open their doors to us.
"Can someone tell me -- is there another exit to this place?" my mother asked those who sat in the hallway on the fourth floor as she glanced down the stairwell fearfully.
No one answered.
"Please, can someone help us?"
"I know you . . ." a voice said down at my mother's feet. My mother kneeled down. It was a human dressed in the most ragged clothes imaginable. She looked like she had not seen a decent meal in months. "Ranger One . . . Babylon 5."
My mother nodded. "Yes. Were you a Ranger?"
Was that word Minbari? I had never heard it before.
"How did you get here? What happened?"
"That's not important. You are. Go to the roof. That's the only other way out. There's a ladder on the south side you can extend down to the street. It's there in case of emergencies." She pressed something into my mother's hand.
"Thank you," my mother whispered, touching the woman's forehead. She took off the outer robe she wore under her cloak and wrapped it around the woman. Then she straightened up and grabbed my hand. We started up the stairs.
"There they are!" I heard Buzz-cut yell. He and his friend were down on around the second floor. My mother and I ran up the stairs faster, trying to ignore the loud clamoring we heard behind us.
"I fight for the Entil'Zha," I heard the woman say.
"Get out of my way, woman. This doesn't concern you."
"I fight for the Entil'Zha. I challenge you to Den'cha."
We stopped when we heard this. Entil'Zha was what she had called my mother and the word Den'cha meant "fight to the death" in Minbari! That woman was fighting those men for us. I didn't understand. Why was she doing this? Why was she helping us like that? I looked over at my mother; she had closed her eyes and was silently saying something. There were screams from below, both male and female.
"We have to help her!" I cried.
"No -- we cannot interfere in a Ranger's challenge." My mother shook her head as a few tears ran down her face. "She has given us a great gift. To go back would be to waste it."
We continued up the stairs until we reached the roof. The roof was covered with discarded garbage and pieces of building materials. Large pieces of metal and other things laid discarded in haphazard stacks.
"Which way is south?" I asked.
My mother quickly looked around, trying to get a feeling for where we were. "The spaceport is to the town's north." She turned pointed to it, then turned around and pointed in that direction. "Over there!"
We quickly spotted the ladder the woman had told us we would have to extend down to the street. I grabbed hold of the cold metal and began pushing it out and down. It came out of its holder in sections which aligned and snapped together as it moved out. My mother grabbed the other side to help. It was about half way down the building before it stopped moving. I shoved it, but it wouldn't budge.
"It's stuck!" I cried.
My mother looked into the ladder's holder, trying to figure out what was wrong. "The next section is wedged in there. We need to get something to use to get under there so we can give it some leverage and pull it out."
"Hurry," I said as she went to get something. I glanced around, wondering what had happened to that woman. No one had come after us. Had she stopped those men? We didn't dare go back to find out.
I pulled up on the ladder, hoping that I could manage to unwedge the section and continue pushing it out. It wasn't working; I wasn't strong enough to lift it up like that.
Suddenly, I felt something sharp pressed against the small of my back.
"Turn around, you little half-breed," Buzz-cut hissed in my ear. "And don't try any Minbari tricks or I'll kill you."
I slowly turned around, keeping my hands where he could see them. Buzz-cut looked like he had had a nasty conversation with a Minbari Fighting Staff.
"Where's your mother?" he asked.
"Long gone," I lied. "You'll never catch her."
"Gone? And left you behind? I don't think so. Neither of your parents would ever leave you behind. That's their weakness. You and her are going to lead me to your father. Now tell me where she is before I slit your throat."
I saw her coming up behind him with a large piece of piping, wielding it like a staff. Apparently, he heard the movement of the staff because he twisted around to deflect the blow. But the blow was enough to cause him to drop his knife. While my mother and he fought over the staff, I scuttled after the knife. I picked it up, feeling sickened by it, but knowing that having it would give us leverage. I turned around to see my mother down on her knees with Buzz-cut standing over her. He had the staff raised as if he was going to bring it down on my mother's head.
"Stop!" I cried, brandishing the knife.
Buzz-cut looked up at me, a snarl crossing his face. "What do you think you're doing, little girl?"
"Get away from my mother or I'll kill you."
He laughed, lowering the pipe slightly. It had sounded like an empty threat, even to myself. But it gave my mother a chance to scramble away.
"You don't have the guts to use that," he said. "You even had someone else fight for you down there. Granted, she was very good; she managed to kill my partner before I killed her. But you won't kill me. And you're trapped here. Now put the knife down like a good little girl and I won't hurt you or your mother."
"I don't believe you!"
"You don't have a choice."
"Get away from us!"
The man took a step closer to my mother, as if to say "I dare you."
"I said I'll kill you!"
"You won't get away from us again. And then we'll find your father and brother. Your whole family will be destroyed."
The pipe came up. In a brief moment, I saw my entire family dead. My mother, my father, David -- everyone who ever cared about me, everyone I ever loved -- destroyed by this man. It was a grisly flash that terrified me. The next thing I knew, I felt the knife leaving my hand.
For a moment, I thought I had dropped it. Until I saw the pipe drop to the ground. I looked up and saw Buzz-cut drop to his knees. He pawed at the bloody knife in his chest, then fell over and didn't move again. I stared at him, paralyzed.
What had I done?
"Jaylen," my mother said softly, putting her hand on my arm.
"I killed him," I cried, tears running down my cheeks.
"You did the only thing you could have done."
"It's never going to be over, is it?" I asked, unable to take my eyes off the still body.
She shook her head. "I wish I could say it will end, that we will all be able to live a normal life . . . it's the price we have to pay. I just wish you and David didn't have to pay it with us."
I looked at her. I couldn't say anything.
Putting her arm around me, she led me back toward the door we had come out of fleeing the men. "Come on, let's go find your father."
We stopped to pay our respects to the woman who had helped us. Some other people in the building, who had no respect for the dead, had already stripped her of her belongings. My mother opened her hand. In it was a large pin with a large blue stone in the center and the figures of a Minbari and a human melding into each other in that stone. As I looked at the pin, I felt as if it spoke to me, to who I was. My mother had never had anything like that before -- it must have been what the woman had given to her before we had gone up to the roof. She knelt down and murmured a Minbari funeral prayer.
"She was a Ranger in the true sense of the word." She rose and gave me the pin. "Here, you should have this."
We had to leave the body there when we left to go look for my father. As we made our way back to the apartment, we found him searching frantically for us in the streets. Both he and David were stopping people to question them when he saw us.
"DELENN! JAYLEN!" he cried, not caring who heard him. He ran up to us and grabbed us in a bear hug, then he kissed my mother. "We got back to the apartment and found the door broken in. I thought that . . . I was sure . . . what happened?"
"They found us, John," my mother told him. "We had to get out of there. We left by the window in Jaylen's room."
"Are they still after you?"
She shook her head, looking at me. "No. But you're right. We have to leave now. They might have friends."
"Amis says there's a transport leaving tonight he can get us on."
We gathered our few belongings from the apartment and went to the spaceport. The transport was a cargo vessel. The captain was a friend of Amis and owed him a favor, so he gave us a small room on board that was usually used for storage. We all breathed a sigh of relief once we were off the planet, but we knew that we could not let our guard down for a second.
Once everything had settled down, I found the pain from my impact with the alley wall coming back to haunt me. I had forgotten about it in the excitement, but now there was no ignoring it. My father saw me leaning up against the bulkhead and came over to me.
"Jay, are you all right? You look pale."
"I . . . everything's caught up with me," I said tiredly. "My head hurts."
He went over and got some pain medication from my mother. Once I had taken them, he sat down and put his arms around me, holding me like he used to when I was a little girl. I started to feel a little better as I put my head on his shoulder. My father always made me feel safe, no matter what was going on.
"Your mother told me what happened up on that roof," he said.
I sighed, trying to keep back the tears. "I didn't want to kill him. I never wanted to kill anyone."
"You had to, Jay. There was no way he was going to let you or your mother go. I know it's hard to deal with and nothing I say will make that better, but you're not evil because you killed someone."
"Then why do I feel so bad?"
"Because you have a conscience." He hugged me a little tighter. "You and David have had to live through so much, you've had to grow up so fast. I wish things could have been different."
"I know." We sat in silence for a few minutes, then I said, "I keep thinking of that woman who helped us."
My father nodded. "What she did was a very brave thing. I'm forever indebted to her memory. I wonder who she was."
I paused momentarily, then pulled the pin my mother had given me out from my pocket. "Dad, do you know what this is?"
My father looked at it, a look of surprise crossing his features. "This is a Ranger pin. Where did you get it?"
"That woman gave it to Mother. What does it stand for?"
"It was the insignia of a group that operated before and during the Shadow War. The pin represents the coming together of the Minbari and humans for a common goal."
The coming together of the Minbari and humans . . .
"Who are the Rangers?" I asked. "What did they do during Shadow War?"
My father hesitated for a moment. "I know your mother and I have never talked about some of the things that happened to us during the Shadow War, but I think it's time we told you."
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