FINDING PEACE (I)
By Lara Nicosia
I usually don't put anything but a small dedication at the top of my stories, but I wanted to take some bandwidth this time to say a few things. First, I have some thanks to share. I want to thank all the people who have responded to my other stories. Because of you, I had the courage to continue writing fanfic. Now, some people are responsible for this particular story (though they may not want credit! *grin*). Soren Fanning on the J&D Forum provided inspiration with his propaganda post. Thanks to Amanda (Ammy on IRC) for beta reading. Finally, I really owe Rachel McKee for her valuable suggestions . . . and copy-editing skills!
This will probably be the last story from Jaylen's point-of-view . . . unless I get a really, really good idea. However, I do intend to write some more about J&D, including a story taking another viewpoint on a scene in this story and a third-person narrative framing the events of "War Without End". Stay tuned.
Some people have contacted the Story Book, asking for my E-mail address, which I haven't put on my previous stories. Comments may be sent to email@example.com All my B5 stories can be found on my Babylon 5 webpage:
I hope you enjoy this story. I've liked writing all of them (except when banging my head against the wall while I have writer's block). Standard legal disclaimers for JMS and Warner Bros. All characters (except Jaylen and Aaron) are theirs and they can have them back anytime.
It was a beautiful day on Minbar.
The sun shone high in the sky, illuminating the green foliage and crystal-clear waterfalls on my homeworld -- the one my husband and I had adopted. It had taken me awhile to adjust to the fact that I now had a permanent home. But now that I did, I didn't think I would have wanted it to be any place but Minbar.
I strolled along the pathways in the Gardens near where I lived. There was really no hurry to get home since Aaron wouldn't be back for a while yet. He and Marcus were supposed to be training new Rangers all day, so I decided to enjoy my walk back from school.
A few months ago, I had agreed to teach Minbari children Standard English. The children were very dear, and I loved what I was doing. When I had first started, though, they had been unsure what to make of me. I had a Minbari-like bone crest, but I looked like no Minbari they knew because I had long, dark hair. They had heard of only one Minbari who had ever looked like that. When they found out she was my mother -- that I was the daughter of Delenn and John Sheridan -- they had become quite excited. They had started asking questions about my parents and their role in the Shadow War. Their parents had told them stories, and they were curious to learn more. I liked telling them what I knew, but it had made it hard to focus on learning at first. I had finally realized that using the stories as a lesson cap was the best way to get the children to study. As a result, they were becoming very fluent in English very quickly. I was quite proud of my pupils' progress, especially since I had never attended a school, much less taught, before. My mother had instructed both my brother and me, and I used many of her techniques.
I glanced up toward Crystal Falls, which was within walking distance from my home. ~Everything you ever taught me . . . I still remember and I'm going to pass it on.~
Suddenly, a wave of dizziness swept over me. I stopped and grabbed a nearby stone pillar to steady myself. Then I sighed. At least the spells were coming somewhat less frequently. And it was better than having morning sickness.
Aaron had been thrilled when the Ranger doctor had told us the news a month ago. So was I . . . usually. There were times when I had doubts, though I hated admitting it to myself. Would I make a good mother? Would I know what to do? It scared me to think that I might do something wrong. Was it right to be feeling this way? I wanted so much to be a good parent -- sure and strong, like my own had been.
"Mrs. Clark?" a voice said. "Mrs. Clark, are you all right?"
I looked over at the person who was speaking. I recognized the Minbari as one of Marcus's Rangers. Pelienn, I think his name was.
"I'm all right, just slightly dizzy. And please, call me Jaylen. Mrs. Clark . . . is someone else."
"Of course, Jaylen. May I walk you home? You look a little pale."
"Yes, you may," I answered, taking his offered arm. "Thank you. Have you seen my husband anytime this afternoon?"
"He was still with Entil'Zha at the training camp the last I knew, but I believe they should be done by now."
When we reached my home, I thanked Pelienn for his kindness.
"It's the least I could do for the daughter of Delenn." He smiled,
then said in Minbari,
As he walked away, I looked down at myself. I wasn't showing yet, so how did he know? Was I emitting pregnancy beacons or something? Then I realized that Aaron had probably told everyone he knew or came in contact with about our impending arrival. He hadn't been able to wipe that silly grin off his face since we had found out.
"Hey, you," Aaron said when I entered. He had gotten home before me. "Where have you been?" he asked as he came over and gave me a kiss and a hug.
"It was so beautiful out that I took the long way home. I got another dizzy spell in the Gardens, so Pelienn walked me the rest of the way."
"Are you okay?" He was always concerned about me nowadays, too.
"I'm fine now. Some women get sick, I get dizzy. At least I only have to hang onto pillars and not toilets."
Aaron laughed. "Cute, Jay. Why don't you sit down and rest for a while. I already started dinner." He began rummaging around in the kitchen. "Would you like some tea? We still have some of that kind you like. No caffeine, per doctor's orders."
"That sounds wonderful," I sighed, sinking down onto the couch.
"How was school?" he asked as he heated the water.
"Fine. If I don't watch it, those kids are going to know English better than I do."
"Isn't that the mark of a good teacher? When the pupil learns more and surpasses the teacher?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, you're just modest." He carried two cups of tea with him out to the living area, carefully handing one to me. I took a sip and smiled contentedly. This had been my mother's favorite tea. My father had always made sure we had some with us, no matter where we were.
*Dad.* I wondered where he was now.
I couldn't sleep.
My mind just wouldn't shut up as I lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. There were too many questions, too many worries. Silently, I slipped out of bed. Aaron turned over as I did, burying his head in the pillow. He seemed so calm, and I envied him that. I wanted to be that sure. It wasn't that I didn't want the baby. I did, more than anything because he or she was part of Aaron and myself . . . and my parents. I just hated that I was having these doubts.
Leaving Aaron to sleep, I went out into the living room area. After spending a few minutes wandering around, I activated the viewer and put a data crystal into the holder.
"Computer, record message at my mark."
"Ready . . ."
"Begin." I took a deep breath. "Hi, Dad. I don't know where you are right now, but I'm sure Marcus will get this to you. I guess being Entil'Zha has its perks. But anyway, I . . . thought you might want to know the news. I'm pregnant, Dad . . . about three months along now. We don't want to know whether it's going to be a boy or a girl; we want to be surprised. Aaron is absolutely thrilled. He can't wait to be a father. I think our child is going to be spoiled absolutely rotten . . ."
I paused. "I wish you'd be able to come see the baby once it arrives . . . I . . ." I wanted to tell him everything. He had always been there when I was younger, giving me advice when I needed it and setting me straight when I was having problems. But I didn't think it would be a good idea. It would only worry him, and I didn't need to do that to him. Especially since he probably wouldn't be able to come to Minbar. I probably shouldn't have even told him I wished he could come see us. "I love you, Dad. And I miss you. I know wherever you are, Mother is watching over you. Please take care."
Stopping the recording, I pulled the crystal out and tossed it on the table. I wasn't sure if I would ever send it to him . . .
With a sigh, I walked over to the window and stared out across the darkened landscape. Mother's light twinkled brightly, like a lone star keeping watch over the countryside. I whispered in Minbari.
A little while later, Aaron came in from the bedroom. He put his arms around me and nuzzled my neck. I usually loved it when he did that, but tonight I was too distracted by other thoughts. He stopped and turned me around to face him.
"Jay, what's wrong?" he asked. "You haven't been able to sleep lately, and I'm starting to get worried. It can't be good for you or the baby."
I sighed, looking down.
"It's the baby, isn't it?"
"I thought you were happy about it."
"I am, Aaron . . . it's just . . . I . . . I'm scared sometimes."
"Jay, you're going to be a great mother. You have nothing to be scared about. You had two great parents as role models, and you're smart. I know you'll do fine. Besides, you're not in this alone. I plan to be here for the long haul."
Silently, I hugged Aaron tight, never wanting to let him go as long as I lived.
"Aaron, have you seen the data crystal that was sitting here on the table?" I asked a few days later. "I could have sworn that was where I left it."
"The one to your father? I gave it to Marcus. He said he would make sure it got to him."
I dropped the couch pillow I was holding. "You did?"
"Yes." He looked stricken. "I thought that was what you wanted . . . I found it and when I saw it, I assumed . . . I didn't . . ."
"No, no . . . it's okay."
He came over and touched my shoulder. "Are you sure?"
Nodding, I said, "I want him to know. I just hope he gets it."
"Aaron? Aaron, are you home?" I called out when I came back from school a little over a week later.
"No, Aaron's not home yet," responded the tall man standing by the window.
"Dad? Dad!" I cried, running over to him. He pulled me into a hug.
"Hey, kiddo," he said with a grin.
He nodded. "Aaron sent me a message with yours. He thought I should come . . . and from your own message, I agreed."
"How long can you stay?" I asked, so happy to see him that I forgot to ask what exactly Aaron had told him in his message.
"I'm not leaving Minbar, Jay. I'm here to stay for good."
"So you'll be here when the baby is born!" Dad was staying! My child was going to have a grandfather around!
"I hope so."
His tone of voice stopped me cold. "What do you mean?"
My father shook his head. "Never mind . . . it's been so long now, maybe he was wrong after all . . . Anyway, I want to hear about how you've been doing. Tell me about this grandchild of mine. Three months along?"
I nodded. "Found out over a month ago."
"Any morning sickness?" he asked as we settled down on the couch to talk.
"No, just dizziness from time to time."
"Lucky you. Your mother had morning sickness for a while with both you kids. Scared her the first time it happened when she was pregnant with David. I had to assure her that it's normal when human women are pregnant." He smiled. "She once said that there was nothing normal about having to be in such an undignified position every morning for over a month."
I laughed. "It scared *Aaron* when I had my first spell. He was so sure something was wrong, he marched me right over to the Ranger doctor." I paused. "He was so happy . . . and relieved."
My father grinned at me. "The days I found out your mother was pregnant were two of the happiest days in my life. I wanted to tell everyone I met that I was going to be a father." He hesitated a moment, a serious expression replacing the lightheartedness that had been there just seconds before. "Are you okay, Jay?"
I looked down, not sure what to tell him. Aaron had asked me the same question, and I hadn't answered him either.
"You're worried, aren't you?"
"How did you do it, Dad?" I finally asked. "You and Mother made it look so easy. But I can't help but worry. I'm so afraid that I'm going to make a mistake once the baby arrives."
"Jaylen, I'd be more concerned if you were confident. Believe me, it wasn't easy. Your mother and I had plenty of anxieties of our own. We made it through them, and you and David turned out fine. You'll make a great mother, Jay. And you'll handle the challenge of parenthood the same way I've seen you handle everything else in your life."
He paused a beat. "You'll kick the crap out of it."
I laughed in spite of myself. I knew he didn't mean that I would literally kick the crap out of parenthood. He was referring to those men who had attacked me on Euphrates Station under Mrs. Clark's orders. They hadn't expected me to fight back . . . and the fact that I had saved my life. I just never let anything get the better of me.
"I hope so, Dad."
"Well, I have something that may help you," he told me as he went over to his duffel bag and pulled something out. He held it to him a moment before placing it in my hands.
I looked down at what he had given me. It was a book -- actually a journal -- with a purple cover and gold gilt trim around the edges. I ran my hand along it, then glanced up at my father.
"It was your mother's. I gave it to her after she became pregnant with David. She wrote in it while she was carrying him, but I know she'd want you to have it."
I opened the journal to study her flowing handwriting. It was in the Minbari language of Light. I smiled as I flipped through a couple of pages. They had held up well over the years, as though she and my father had taken great care to preserve the journal and its contents.
"Thank you," I whispered, rising from the couch and hugging him.
"I know you'll take good care of it."
"I'm glad you came, Dad."
"I am, too."
I set the journal up on a nearby shelf. I would read it later when I was by myself.
"David, come in. Come in," I said when my brother came awhile later. I quickly pulled him inside.
"What is it, Jay? Why was it so important I come over for dinner *tonight* on such short notice?" he asked. A moment later, he saw him, and a huge grin spread across his face. "Dad!"
"Hello, son." They shook hands, then grabbed each other in a bear hug. I grinned as Aaron came over and put his arms around me. My brother shook his head in disbelief, looking from my father to me and back again.
"How . . . ? When did you get here?" he asked.
"This afternoon. And you have your sister and brother-in-law to thank for this one."
David smiled and nodded knowingly. "So you know these two are going to make me an uncle . . . *Grandpa*."
My father laughed. They went into the living area where David told him all about Ranger training -- how everything he and Mother had taught us gave him a great advantage in what he was learning. I knew my brother really thrived on this. He loved what he was doing and had truly found his calling. I could tell that our father was proud of him.
As we sat down to dinner, I felt a great sense of joy. The three most important men in my life were with me.
My entire family was together again, I thought as I glanced out the window at the twinkling light.
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