A NEW DAWN (a.k.a. Come Fly With Me)
CATEGORY: I think it's an AU by now...
SPOILERS: 'Matters Of Honor'
SERIES: Intersections In A Variation #5
DISCLAIMER: Nothing here is mine, as usual. I do this purely out of love and respect for the series and the characters, and I wouldn't even *want* to write it for money. No, seriously.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, it's *not* the seasonal story I wanted or intended to put out, but it is a finished story and only 7 hours and 36 minutes late to be a Christmas present. Not bad! Now if you'll all excuse me, I think I'll say hello to my bed. It hasn't seen me in two days...
ARCHIVE: If you think it's worth your time, put my name on it and it's yours. Please tell me, though, so I can point all my friends at your page.
"Hey, watch it!" Switching his maintenance kit to the other hand, the short and rather stocky Human ignored his work partner's calming hand and spun round in response to the interruption. "Watch where you're - oh. Sorry, Ambassador." He ducked his head in an awkward bow as he noticed who it was that had pushed past him with such haste. "No offence, I mean, I-"
"It's all right." Pulled abruptly from her own thoughts, Delenn smiled an apology. She had been moving so quickly, she had barely noticed anyone else in the crowded corridor. "I am the one who should apologise. I did not mean to interrupt your duties."
The little man shrugged cheerfully. "Hey, don't worry about it." He rubbed a hand over his hair, obviously embarrassed to have stopped someone of her rank when she was in such a hurry. Most likely he imagined she was late for a meeting, or a diplomatic function: the thought made her feel slightly guilty, as it always did when she found herself allowing another to believe that her life was truly so uncomplicated. She bowed formally - if still a little hastily - in final apology, and ran through a short, silent meditation to calm herself after the sudden intrusion on her preoccupied thoughts.
Continuing down the corridor she deliberately slowed her pace, trying not to remind herself how late she was already and how likely it was that something else would arise to disrupt her journey again. She had not been on time to meet John for weeks now, she chastised herself silently. Always something or another would distract her attention - and always she was unable to call and let him know, which only made the tension worse. It frustrated him, she knew, although they both did their best to forgive each other the constant difficulties that plagued their relationship. They would need some time alone together, soon, or things would become even more unbearable. She had feared that Kosh's appearance would change things aboard the station, and she was not so blind as to be surprised by the sudden leap in traffic that had followed the incident, but she still had not expected their schedules to clash so dramatically over such a relatively small thing. Even despite the calming meditation still attempting to order her thoughts, a quiet and frustrated sigh escaped her lips as she joined an already crowded transport tube. She would rather go the rest of the way alone, or at least in silence, but recently it was possible to wait all day and still never see an empty tube pass by. The extra populace was good for business, she supposed, but even John was growing as frustrated with the situation as she. If they could not find some time soon - or at least manage to grasp what little they already had...
She had hardly taken two steps from the lift when the sound of her name caught her ear. She turned, already drawn towards John's cabin: Lennier stood at the fork between corridors, looking almost as rushed as she imagined she appeared these days. "Good, there you are." He caught up with her easily within a few steps, his voice oddly lowered. "I was just informed... someone is looking for you."
She forced down the surge of impatience at yet another delay. "This is not a good time, Lennier."
"He sent this." He opened his palm, the movement seeming... 'shifty', John would have called it. Seeing the telltale glint of green against his palm, she immediately understood why.
Once again, John would just have to wait.
There had always been something soothing about flying in hyperspace, Delenn considered, whatever the ship, and given the stress of the past few hours it was an even more welcome sight. Resting one hand lightly on the edge of the viewport in front of her, she leaned forward and tilted her head to settle herself comfortably into the small niche between window and wall. The room was tiny and unfurnished, a storage area of some kind, but it served her purpose for the moment. She was lucky enough to have been privy to most of the ship's designs, and so finding somewhere quiet to lose herself for a few hours had not been difficult. There was only one person who might spend long enough searching to find her down here, and she was almost sure -
She blinked, not having heard his footsteps, and turned to him with a smile if a little surprise. "I thought you were sleeping."
"Ah, well." Sheridan shrugged and laid his hands on her shoulders, turning her back to face the starscape outside before sliding his arms around her, his chin coming to rest lightly on her hair. "It's not that long until we get home, and I figured while everyone was busy I'd sneak in some of those 'good relations' we apparently have together." He lifted his head briefly to glance around. "Nice place for it, by the way."
She laughed softly, relaxing into his arms, remembering Endawi's words with a smile. If he only knew how true his 'diplomatic' profession of goodwill had been...
"It was quiet," she explained, wondering idly if she sounded as tired as she felt. Obviously she did, given the heartfelt nod she received in response. The importance of this first flight had weighed heavily on both of them - they had set out for the fledgling mission so quickly, there had been little time at the beginning to think of anything but completion and escape, and it had been a long while since she had flown on a warship. A long time for both of them, she realised.
"I know the feeling." His voice was a little quieter than usual, but still a smile seemed to have found its way into his tone. "I think I came up with something to give us some time off while I was wrestling with those beds, though." Her silence was questioning and he raised his head to meet her eyes in the dull reflection of the window. "You wanna shuttle back with me?"
She turned to face him in surprise at the question. "John, we can't."
He smiled and pulled her tighter to his chest. "Aw, come on. I'd love to see inside that flyer of yours. I'm sure Lennier wouldn't mind letting Marcus fill him in on what's been going on with the Rangers, and it'd give us some time together." His tone was gently urging, knowing it was almost impossible for her to resist when he held her like this. "Come on, Delenn. No one's gonna get suspicious of a little shuttle flight. Don't we deserve it after today?"
"Perhaps," she conceded. It would give them some desperately-needed time, after all... she paused, and a slow smile of amusement touched her lips as she settled back against his chest. "Perhaps you do deserve a reward of some kind. I would not have thought of what you did," she admitted ruefully. He smiled reassuringly.
"That's why we're a team, Delenn. You can't expect to be able to think of everything at once." He grinned teasingly, nibbling lightly on her earlobe. "You didn't think this was my *only* talent, did you?"
"I had begun to wonder," she teased. Sheridan met her eyes briefly in the window and gave her a look.
"You know, I've been thinking. What I said earlier, about... acting and reacting?" Delenn looked up. "It should apply to us too, you know. We've hardly had time to look at each other lately."
"I know." She shook her head resignedly. "I have tried, but everything is so busy of late..."
"Hey." His arms tightened around her in a gentle hug, although she could still feel the fatigue in his loose touch. "I'm not blaming you. I've been as bad - life just gets like that sometimes." Sensing an edge of guilt still lingering in her silence, he dredged up a smile and nuzzled gently into her hair, absently smoothing her dress under his hands.
"Did I mention I like this on you?" He traced a hand down her side under the soft fabric, coming to rest lightly on her hip. The colors were a little more subdued than he usually saw on her, but he couldn't argue with anything that managed to outline her figure like that. "I don't think I've seen it before."
"No, I... did not have time to change," she admitted, looking briefly self-conscious that he had noticed. "I would not usually..." she trailed off as she turned her head, seeing the look in his eyes just in time to meet his kiss. He released her, sliding his hands gently into her hair as she turned to face him, deepening the kiss further when he drew her tighter against him again.
"Mmm..." He smiled down at her, one hand moving absently over her back. "Maybe you should go with it more often."
Delenn blinked. "Go... 'with it'?"
He chuckled - it was always good to know that whatever else happened to his increasingly chaotic life, some things were going to remain steadfastly unchanged. "I meant you should wear it more often." He wriggled his eyebrows suggestively. "I definitely like it."
"I do not think it would be appropriate for the Minbari Ambassador," she returned. The smile in her eyes, though, was definitely pleased with his reaction. "However, it is possible that I might be... persuaded, to continue wearing it here."
Sheridan grinned. "Or not?"
Her smile was intimate now. "Perhaps - if the Captain requests it."
He raised his eyebrows, easing her hair back and sliding his hands over her shoulders, light fingertips moving sensuously down her back. "Well then... consider it an official request, Ambassador."
"John!" She laughed softly as he kissed her neck, glancing quickly at the closed but unlocked door behind him. "If someone finds us here, you will get us both into trouble."
"Do you want me to stop?"
Her laughter echoed again in the small chamber. "Of course not."
"Good." He grinned and lifted his head to kiss her again, biting playfully at her tongue. "How long was it until we jump?"
"Long enough," she whispered against his mouth.
"Not a lot of room in here," he noted in an idle tone. Delenn didn't bother to seem concerned.
"I think you're creative enough to manage."
"Mm... oh, I imagine so." His fingers trailed into her hair, his tongue seeking hers as he deepened the kiss and her arms slipped naturally around his neck -
- and his link sounded. Instinct honed from close to a year's worth of caution made her jerk back from him as the all-too familiar sound reached her ears, and she was almost out of hearing range when he caught hold of her wrist with his left hand, tapping the device brusquely with his right.
Ivanova's voice - of course, who else would it be? - echoed into their refuge. "*I'm trying to reach Delenn, but she isn't answering the comm. Any idea where she might be?*"
She caught his gaze, worriedly attempting to impress on him the danger of this, but he shook his head in response and his grip only tightened on her wrist. "Uh-uh. Get back here." His voice was barely a breath over her ear as he dragged her back against him, pressing his link hand momentarily against his back to muffle the sound and nuzzling into her hair, a shiver running through her as his warm breath whispered over her neck. "I'll handle this. Be quiet."
"*John?*" There was suspicion in Susan's voice, and Delenn swallowed hard to keep from making a sound that would give them both away. What did he think he was doing, risking their secret like this? One mistake, that was all it would take...
"Hmm?" He brought the link up to his lips again, quickly - across the front of her body, trapping her securely in his embrace with little more than a few inches of empty air to muffle the sound of her presence. "What was that?"
She concentrated on not breathing, trying to put the image of Susan's scowling and suspicious face out of her mind. "*John, what are you up to?*"
His eyes sparkled as he met her gaze - half anxious and half amused, now - in the pale reflection of the window, resting his left hand on her shoulder and brushing her hair to one side with the other. "Oh, you know me. Just..." he grinned and traced a finger down the front of her dress, slipping his hand inside to cup around her breast, keeping his tone absent. "Exploring a little."
There was a pause, and the sound that filled it could only have been a sigh of frustration. Delenn knew exactly the feeling. "*You haven't seen her?*"
She had to struggle not to laugh as he closed his eyes in response to that - "No, I haven't," - and then swallow a quiet moan as his lips worked a silent trail down her neck, lithe fingers already pushing her overdress from her shoulder. "Did you try the crew quarters?"
"*Crew quarters, captain's quarters, hangar bay. Nothing.*"
He chuckled, burying a kiss in the nape of her neck as the dress fell to the floor and forcing himself not to laugh at the dirty look she shot him by way of their reflection. "She's probably off meditating somewhere." He wriggled his eyebrows at her in the window, his right hand skimming over her body to rest on her stomach, pressing her tightly back against him as he started to work at her jumpsuit. "You know how mysterious Minbari can be."
Ivanova's annoyance was an audible snort; Delenn bit her lip to hide her response, realising with a surge of guilty, childish pleasure that somehow John was getting away with it and not only was the poor woman completely unaware that her CO was lying through his teeth, but that he was being exceptionally creative with his free hand while doing so. *Amazingly* creative, she amended, covering her mouth rapidly with one hand to muffle the sharp gasp that slipped out, his 'explorations' finding the bare skin of her lower back. This time she moved instinctively to help his wandering hand find its target, pushing the soft fabric from her shoulders, vaguely acknowledging even as he released the final clasp and turned her to face him that he was still speaking, even if both of them were only distantly aware of the words.
"I'll tell her," he promised into the link, and it was all she could do not to laugh at the distinctly hoarse break in his voice as he rushed the words out. "See you in an hour or so. Sheridan out."
She did her best to look annoyed with him - a difficult undertaking, given the situation and her distinct lack of clothing, but at least her voice was working fully at the task. "If anyone discovers us, I will swear to my dying breath that that was entirely *your* idea."
He grinned broadly and pulled her into his arms again. "It was. And very efficient, too." His eyes danced with laughter as his gaze roamed her body, from the tip of her crest to the discarded pile of clothing at her feet. "My Academy tutors would be proud."
She had to laugh at that. "Somehow, I doubt that would be the case."
He shrugged one shoulder, a quick nod acknowledging her point without releasing the humor of it. "Yeah, well. Last I checked, it wasn't in the regs that I *shouldn't* do this, so..."
"And if it were?" she teased. He flashed her a grin.
"You're worth it." And she knew she was, at least to him, just as it was worth all the interruptions and all the delays and all the difficulties that could be thrown at them to be standing in his arms now.
"Sit down." He nodded to the narrow window frame behind her, allaying her confusion at the sudden request. "Trust me. Sit."
Her eyes narrowed curiously, but she did as he asked, shivering slightly at the cold of the window behind her and giving him a distinctly unimpressed expression. He'd mentioned the Academy, and she remembered they had spoken of that before... "Does this have something to do with the... 'hazing' you spoke of?"
"No." Sheridan chuckled, shaking his head as he slipped off his jacket. Trust Delenn to think of something like that on such an offhand comment. "Nothing like that." A step closer brought him up against her, standing between her legs as he gestured for her to move towards him and wrapped the thick jacket loosely around her shoulders. "Better?"
"A little." Her voice was still suspicious. "John, what-"
"Shh." He touched a fingertip to her lips to silence her, leaning down to follow with a kiss. She went instinctively to touch his cheek, opening her mouth to his; his tongue fought hers and his lips on hers were hungry, passionate, as he pressed her back into the tiny recess of the window and leaned confidently against her body. She hummed roughly at the back of her throat, curiosity fleeing her mind, unable to help that purely physical reaction to his self-assurance in claiming her this way.
She became aware, somewhere among those deep, passionate kisses, that he was still mostly dressed - and moreover that given the relatively short time they had to themselves, he was making no effort to remedy that situation. She pulled her head back to look at him, searching his face curiously; a smile danced over those playful lips and his hands moved to rest on the window, trapping her in place as he dropped smoothly to his knees in front of her and leaned up, as if in supplication, to smile into her eyes. She couldn't deny that she liked this position, she admitted to herself as her attentive lover nuzzled his lips into her neck. Even if he were a credit to his race in being able to confuse her, at least she could not fault him for passion. But what...
"You need to relax, love." He looked up at her for a brief moment, his fingers cold from the glass as he touched her. "Relax, hmm? I want to make this good for you..." He lowered his head again, continuing the soft path of kisses down her body, and hot arousal flashed between her legs in sudden anticipation as she realised what he wanted to do, and that he seemed in no hurry to do it. The door wasn't locked, she remembered in a sudden moment of abstract alarm. It couldn't be locked - it was only a storage room, they weren't safe here...
"Mmm..." A cool hand warmed itself on her flushed skin, easing her forward to meet his exploring mouth, and she tried to fight the sudden reckless desire to do as he asked, let him pleasure her the way he intended. "John... no, what if-"
"Shh." He laid a kiss over her heart, shifting closer on his knees to gently ease her legs further apart even as he looked up into her eyes. "No one's looking," he assured her. "So far as they know, you're holed up in some little corner of the ship meditating, and I'm..." he grinned and ducked his head for a long moment, enjoying the deep, quiet moan that caught in her throat as he bared his teeth, nipping gently at the sensitive skin just under her collarbone. "I'm doing *exactly* what I want to do right now." His voice muffled as the last words closed smoothly over her breast, swirling his tongue around the taut nipple before catching it expertly in his teeth, humming softly in encouragement at the soft gasps his sudden attentions elicited from her throat. He spread one hand broadly on her thigh, stroking his fingers over her hip, teasing sensitive skin where he knew from experience that even such a light touch would draw a reaction. "Just relax," he murmured between kisses as he moved across her body, fingers rubbing in a gentle, absent caress on her hip. "Relax..." The other hand cupped under her breast, lifting it to his mouth, and she gasped sharply as he tugged her nipple into his mouth and suckled hard, teeth grazing softly at her skin. She felt his hand move from her thigh, trembling in anticipation when those practised fingers came to rest on her stomach, stroking lightly downward, knowing just how long he could hold out on her before -
"Oh..." The sound was soft, barely a word and barely noticed, in response to the light brush of fingertips across her clit. Too fast, too little... she moaned quietly, reaching for his hand, needing more and needing desperately to tell him. "John-"
"I know." His hand closed calmly around hers where she sought it, and she felt the pounding beat of his heart under her palm as he pressed her hand to his chest, holding tightly to that contact. "I know what you need, love, believe me. See what you're doing to me?" Another kiss against the side of her breast and then he looked up at her, and she had no doubt from the look of fierce passion in his eyes that he felt it as well, wanting to give her this before he gave in to his own need for her. "Just hearing you, just knowing you want me..." his voice was low and rough in counterpoint to her own ragged breaths, slick fingertips still drawing light circles between her legs as he met her eyes. "Do you want me?" he questioned softly. "Now?"
//Yes...// she slipped momentarily into Minbari, nodding breathlessly in answer. //I want you to touch me... to be inside me...// Her hips bucked insistently under his fingers. //*Please*...//
He smiled at that, glad at least for now that he was making time in his hectic schedule to learn her language. He didn't want to make a mistake just from something as useless as a language barrier, and Delenn could certainly be more vocal in Adronato than she knew words for in English. She was learning, just the way he was, but it required concentration and right now he didn't want her concentrating on anything but where to guide his hand. He eased two fingers inside her, gently circling, caressing, rubbing...
It wasn't enough, not after this long - she needed this, *desperately* needed this release that only he could give, and she ground her hips onto his hand to urge him onwards. //Please... deeper, please...// "*Ohh...*" She gasped loudly as he complied, glad beyond all measure that he could understand her half-coherent pleading. //Yes, there... ohh, John, please...// It didn't matter now where they were, why, who might find them - she just wanted him to do this forever. "Please don't stop..."
He chuckled softly against her skin, his lips drawing a wet trail between her breasts, covering every inch of her body he could reach with kisses. "Honey, if I had a choice I'd be doing this for as long as I live." Another kiss, just a hairs breadth lower, another thrust of his hand teasing a longing moan from her lips. "Did I tell you today how beautiful you are?"
"I-I don't... ohh..." She dragged in a breath as he lowered himself further between her legs, shaking her head quickly as she rushed the words out. //I don't remember...//
"So beautiful," he murmured at the very top of her thigh, his voice so quiet that if she were not so attuned to hearing his voice behind the pounding arousal flooding her body she would have no chance at all of making out the words. "Do you know how old I am, Delenn?"
She shook her head blindly - whether she truly did or not she didn't remember, but under his skilful fingers she didn't care. What did it matter anyway?
"Forty-four," he muttered, in answer to his own question. "Forty-four years, and I've never seen anyone to compare with you..." His mouth was on her then, just the tip of his tongue brushing her clit, teasing, rubbing his fingers lightly over her palm in rhythm with the intimate caress of his other hand inside her. She bucked her hips against his thrusting fingers, crying out breathlessly in both pleasure and entreaty as he deepened the penetration. Valen help her, she wasn't sure she could survive this, wasn't even sure she *wanted* to - they could tell her people she had been lost in the battle and she could just stay here and die from the pleasure spreading out under his hand... and his mouth, *Valen*, sucking gently on her, his tongue flicking over her clitoris, slick fingers still deep inside her body, urging her to let go, to let the release come -
//Yes... oh, VALEN...// He sucked harder and she tangled her fingers in his short hair, arching into his mouth. //*John*-// his name barely more than a gasp in her throat and with a distinctly Minbari inflection as she shuddered violently against him, sobbing his name over and over as the intensity of orgasm finally, suddenly hit her. It seemed to last forever, her body still unbearably sensitive as he continued to stroke gently inside her, coaxing her on, prolonging her release for as long as he could until she was sure she would fall apart if she let him continue any longer. She reached out a shaking hand to brush his wrist, sobbing once more in bittersweet relief as he laid a final kiss against her thigh and withdrew both fingers gently from her body. She was still shaking as she collapsed against the blissful cold of the window, too exhausted even to laugh at the sudden thought that it was very, *very* lucky that there would be no one on the other side to see how Sheridan Starkiller could make her fall apart so thoroughly...
He held gently onto her until the trembling slowed to an occasional soft ripple and then sat back on his heels in front of her, one hand rubbing a steady, gentle caress back and forth over her thigh; reassuring, letting her know through the hazy afterglow that he was still here, still watching her even if the physical contact was all but gone. His gaze stayed evenly on her face, her lips reddened and parted as she gasped for breath, pale skin flushed and definitely glowing after his thorough explorations.
"Delenn?" He stilled his hand on her thigh and rocked forward onto his knees to get a little closer, laying his free hand softly on her hip. She blinked suddenly, an involuntary shudder running under his hands at the sensation as her darkened eyes found his face, and he smiled hopefully up at her. "I take it that was at least okay?"
A look of sudden heat answered him, and he forced down his own reaction again as she licked at her lips, attempting to find the words that would agree to that.
"It was..." she swallowed quickly, sucking in a shallow breath as she looked down into his smiling features, "I think... were your tutors here, you would *definitely* be in trouble for doing that."
He laughed. "Oh, no doubt about it." He rose smoothly from the floor and held out his hands to her, guiding her into the warmth of his arms and pulling her tightly against him, running a cool finger lightly down her spine. "And I'd still do it forever, whatever they said."
She gave a soft, languid laugh in answer, fingertips already reaching for the open collar of his shirt as she lifted her head for the kiss she knew was coming. "What about your... regulations?" she whispered playfully. He shrugged, helping her somewhat unfocused efforts to remove his shirt, and muttered his reply into her mouth with an answering grin.
"Damn the regulations." She made a sound half laughter and half moan in response to that, quickly sucking in a sharp breath as he slid a hand between them to pull off his shirt and warm fingers rubbed against the sensitive underside of her breast.
"John..." The white shirt dropped to the floor to join his discarded jacket and she was already pressed urgently against him, burying a succession of soft kisses in his bare chest. A strong hand splayed at the base of her spine held her tighter still against his body, and her eyes slipped closed with a soft moan as she felt his erection press hard and thick against her.
"What you do to me," he murmured breathlessly in her ear. "God, I need you..."
"Then take me," was her only reply, and he wasn't surprised that her fingers already worked at the waistband of his pants, needing only a few moments to divest him of the rest of his clothing as easily as he had removed hers. He slid his hands down to her thighs, starting to lift her; she tensed for a moment, despite the need burning in her eyes, and he smiled reassuringly.
"Just relax. It's good this way, I'm not going to let you fall." He ducked down and lifted her into his arms, his voice strained for a moment. "Wrap your legs around me."
She did as he asked, her eyes curious; he pressed her back against the window again to support her weight, although once he had them both settled into position it was easy enough to keep her steady. Her arms wrapped around his neck, keeping her close as she kissed him, and he slipped his tongue easily into her mouth even as he tilted his head up and lifted her further. She arched her back as the tip of his penis rubbed across her center, humming softly in her throat; he felt her swell again under his caress and groaned loudly with long-awaited relief as he slipped just that first touch inside her and then the comforting pressure her weight did the rest. Her eyes widened for an instant as he pressed completely into her and he frowned very slightly, concerned. "Did I hurt you? We can sit down..."
"No... it's all right. It was... just for a moment." She touched his face gently to reassure him, nuzzling her head under his chin and revelling in the sensation of having him buried suddenly so deep inside her. "I like this. I like being close to you."
He chuckled. "Well, I don't think you could get much closer." He shifted slightly, and the movement made her gasp softly in surprise at the pleasure even that small movement caused. Sheridan grinned. "Getting used to it?"
"Minbari have not... considered... this position." She took a slow breath in an attempt to calm herself, already feeling a soft shudder run through him and wrapping her arms more tightly around his neck to hold them together. "I think perhaps this is something else we should revise."
He laughed. "Maybe you should ask Lennier to put it in his proposal."
"Mmm..." She shook her head against his shoulder, rocking her hips very slightly to demonstrate her point. "I don't think so."
Sheridan swallowed hard, his eyes closing briefly as she moved against him, wondering just how much pressure that window would be able to take... "Hm... you could be right on that one."
Delenn smiled and lifted her head, brushing her mouth teasingly against his as she shifted against him again. "Am I not always?"
"*Hmmm*..." He growled quietly under his breath, chasing her mouth for a hungry kiss. "Oh, definitely..." She lifted her head willingly for his kiss and wound her fingers into his hair, her tongue twining with his in rhythm with his gentle, rocking thrusts, and with what little calm and rational thoughts he'd managed to hang onto thus far Sheridan took the few steps necessary to push her against the wall of the tiny chamber. This wasn't going to take as long as he'd hoped, he could tell. "Delenn-"
"Shh..." Her hand pressed briefly to his face - she could feel he was close, so close, knowing she wouldn't be far behind for the second time when he let the release come. "Let it go..." Her voice was low and throaty as she leaned in to kiss him passionately again. "I want this - I want you..." And then an encouraging hum, purred in her throat: he buried his face in her neck, relying purely on her tight embrace to keep them together as he relaxed all restraint and thrust harder into her. It had just been too long, too many times lately he'd been expecting this and missed it - missed *her* desperately - and watching her come once already, knowing it was all because of him... He was panting heavily as he thrust harder, faster now, feeling her muscles tighten involuntarily around his straining erection as she rocked in counter to his movements, head tipped back to rest on the wall and breathing his name in that soft, pleading whisper of Minbari. //John...//
He slid his hands down her back, grasping her hips, gasping and praying as he fought to drive even deeper inside her. "Oh God - oh, God, *Delenn*-" He thrust once more deeply, fiercely into her, knowing that was what she wanted and so, so willing to give it to her right now...
Her nails dug into his shoulders suddenly, her body rigid in his arms, and the sound of her screaming his name mingled with his own fierce shout of release as a bone-deep, intensely satisfying orgasm ripped through him. *Too long... *much* too long...* was the thought in his mind as used the last of his energy to set her down, then rested his forehead heavily against the wall and finally, blissfully let oblivion claim him.
He was still gasping for breath minutes later, trying to ignore the tremors that echoed through his body as he relaxed carefully against her, grateful for the reassuring embrace that reached up to pull him more forcefully towards her. He laid one palm flat against the cool wall, the other hand sliding into her hair and rubbing his fingers absently across her crest in wordless gratitude. "Delenn, honey..." He ran a fingertip down the central ridge of her crest, smiling tenderly as she nuzzled into him in return. "God, you're so amazing..."
"Hmm... we will jump to normal space very soon," she reminded him absently, and more than a little reluctantly. A mischievous smile fluttered on her lips. "And I believe the door is still unlocked?" He shot a sudden, furtive look over his shoulder and she laughed, only twining her arms further around his neck and lifting her head to nuzzle into the crook of his shoulder. "Someone will discover us, sooner or later," she murmured softly into his neck. Sheridan leaned back to meet her eyes, and it went unspoken that she didn't necessarily mean today.
"I know." He nodded in agreement. "But for now, hmm?" Gentle fingers caressed her hair, tucking a dark, soft wave carefully behind her ear. "We let things be what they're going to be. If we get caught, we get caught. We both know it'll happen eventually." She looked down, knowing she had to admit that; he traced a finger down her cheek, lifting her chin to look intently into her eyes. "I love you, Delenn. We've got nothing to be ashamed of. Have we?"
A small smile answered him. "Of course not." Not in the way he meant it. But still... He knew enough to be able to sense her hesitation and rolled his eyes half-seriously.
"Other than running around in secret, carrying on an illicit affair that would probably send half the galaxy into apoplexy, distracting each other at very inconvenient times, hiding out from our friends in cramped storage lockers that most likely don't fit with any safety regs, Human *or* Minbari..."
Delenn laughed; it was all true, and she wasn't quite certain why that was amusing, but that he could make it so was one of those things she loved so much about him. "Other than that, then, no. There is nothing wrong in this."
He let a quiet sigh escape his lips at the tone in her voice - he could always tell if something bothered her, no matter how she tried to convince them both otherwise. "It won't be forever," he promised against her hair. "You deserve to have so much more than - than this rushing around, squeezing a few minutes in between meetings-"
"Shh." A tender touch on his cheek stilled the protest, knowing he blamed himself more than she wanted to see. "You are here, and I am here. For this moment I have all that I need." She flashed him a smile, gently teasing him. "I will not deny that what I would *like* to have is much more than that, but I have no great desire to send the other half of the galaxy into convulsions for now."
He chuckled dryly. "Well, I don't know about you, but I was about ready to send our curious Mister Endawi into convulsions this morning."
"I imagine it would have been a useful distraction," she returned with amusement as she settled her head on his chest. "And it is good to know that we have such fantasies in common."
He laughed at that, the sound warm and low, mingling with the strong beat of his heart under her cheek. "Chalk that conference table down as a possibility, then, if we ever find some more time after this."
"Mm..." She hummed quietly, considering the idea, running a teasing fingertip over the exposed muscles of his back. "It is possible that I could clear a few hours on my schedule..."
"Mmmm... Delenn..." He swallowed quickly, trying to ignore the distinctly erotic sensations rising under even that simple caress. What was it he'd said about distracting each other? "We should *really* get upstairs," he murmured huskily in her ear. "Or we're gonna be explaining ourselves to someone a hell of a lot sooner than I'd like." That light touch trailed absently down his spine, a warm shiver following her gentle fingers, and he nuzzled his lips apologetically against her hair. "And I don't want to lose half the crew to heart attacks if they come looking for us." She smiled tiredly in response to that, nodding reluctantly as she stepped back out of his arms. He tried his best not to look at her as she dressed, knowing it would only distract him from his own task, but it was incredibly difficult when she was still so close. He could smell the scent of her, even feel the soft heat from her body as she moved those few inches closer again, and it had been far too long since they'd had the luxury of this kind of time together...
"John!" She laughed softly in reproach as his hand caught her dress, stepping quickly out of his reach - not an easy task in such cramped quarters, but she managed to evade him long enough to answer the half-serious attentions with a swift glance. "We do not have enough crew to spare," she admonished bemusedly. He rolled his eyes, tossing her an inquiring look as he shrugged on his jacket.
"Are we going to do something about that?"
"The Rangers are still recruiting, among my people and yours," she assured him in answer, reaching up absently to straighten his collar. "We will be ready. If I could tell you more than that..."
"I know." He tilted his head down to kiss her, his fingers lightly caressing her arm for a moment in support. "It's okay. I trust you; it's enough for me to know that you know." He wriggled his eyebrows in question, purposefully lightening the mood with a boyish grin. "Right now, I think I can be persuaded to settle for a few hours alone in that flyer of yours...?"
"Do you think she suspects anything?"
Sheridan glanced back over her shoulder at his departing exec; she was still muttering to herself, he could tell even from here, but it had more to do with his over-exuberance right now than any real sort of suspicions. "She hasn't noticed a thing," he returned in a low voice. "Come on." His palm went to rest gingerly at the small of her back, guiding her towards the open hatch that loomed enticingly above them. As much as he loved spending this time with Delenn, if they had to hang around the bay in public much longer his excitement was going to get him into trouble. He followed her up the boarding steps, grinning as she turned to smile at him and hold out a supporting hand while he manoeuvred his way through the oddly shaped hatch. And then she stepped aside, slipping into the pilot's seat -
He couldn't believe his eyes. The *White Star* was a gorgeous vessel in her own right and he couldn't wait to really spend some time aboard exploring, but this - Minbari technology was the envy of the galaxy when it came to space travel, and to see so much in such a small craft, right at his fingertips... he didn't know where to look first.
"Delenn, this is amazing! *Look* at all this..." his voice trailed away in wonder, and she watched in amusement as those long, gentle fingers moved almost lovingly over the consoles around him, a look of hunger in his eyes.
"You will make me jealous, if you continue to look at my ship that way," she teased with just a touch of pique in her tone. He turned quickly back to her with a guilty flash in his eyes and gave her a boyish smile.
"I don't think it'd fit in my quarters, though, do you? Hey." He reached out to take her hand from the controls and shifted to lean against her chair, not teasing now. "You'll never have competition, you know that." He lowered his voice tenderly, touching her face with his free hand and leaning down to her. "I love you..."
It was then, of course, that the ship - still linked in to the *White Star*'s intercom - interrupted his approach in traditional fashion: by sounding Ivanova's voice throughout the small cabin. "*Captain? Ambassador Delenn?*"
He shot up from the chair, panic flashing across his face as he shot a look at the console. "How long has that thing been on?"
Delenn smiled the smile of the just - and the revenged. "The ship may be pretty, but it is sometimes... unpredictable."
Trying to force his raging heartbeat down to something close to normal, he shot her a half-serious glare. "Reminds me of someone else I know," he muttered under his breath. She looked up at him innocently and smiled, reaching out to float her hand over the console's sensors.
"Shuttle one, this is the *Zhalen*. We are ready for departure."
"*Acknowledged. Shuttle one out.*"
Sheridan sank into the passenger seat to the left of her chair, shaking his head to attempt to clear the fog of shock from his brain. "You're trying to kill me," he muttered from behind one hand. Delenn laughed softly and waved an expert hand over the engine controls, spinning her chair back to face him.
"It is a very bad idea to inspire jealousy in a Minbari," she informed him with an arch expression. He raised his eyebrows, curious.
"And how do I convince a Minbari that she has absolutely nothing to be worried about?"
Amusement sparkled in her eyes. "I'm sure you will think of something." Sheridan grinned.
"I might need a few pointers," he returned teasingly. "How busy it's been lately, I might have lost my touch."
"I would be surprised if that were true," she laughed softly as she turned her back to him again, brushing her fingers delicately over well-worn controls; the routine seemed so smooth that the board could have been designed especially for her. He wondered, with a touch of envy despite himself, if it would surprise him if it had been. Probably not, he thought back in answer. Minbari were nothing if not efficient, after all.
"Hmm?" He blinked - and became aware, then, that in his distraction he'd started watching her a little too closely, and moreover that she was now staring back at him over her shoulder with that look of 'I will never understand you' written in her teasing smile.
"Did you wish to watch?"
He coughed hard at that, wishing that she hadn't used that *particular* voice, and those especial words when they were going to be guaranteed alone together for the next few hours, at least. It was hardly an innocent turn of phrase, he knew that much; she knew what would come first to his mind, which was why she had said it and exactly why she was looking at him now with more amusement in her eyes by the millisecond. "I, uh..." He shook his head quickly in a futile attempt to stay on track. "What?"
"Come." Her voice was low, teasing him; her eyes sparkled with good humor. "Here, if you wish to see?"
Sheridan stood up carefully, still feeling a little odd to be staying on the floor on a ship this small, and leaned in over her shoulder.
Delenn didn't look up, but she didn't need to for him to see her amusement at his reaction.
"Do you like what you see?"
He nodded silently, too awed even react to that teasing tone of voice. It was beautiful; so much more organic and individual than the clunky, backdated Starfury he'd been assigned when he arrived on station. That wasn't even solely flown by him, any more - not enough storage in the bays to warrant a personal ship for a Captain who barely filled his flight quota, and anyway why would he want to after seeing *this*? He knew enough of written Minbari to be able to spot systems Earthforce had never even *considered* dreaming of, and on a short-range, *personal* flyer? He was starting to understand what she meant about jealousy...
Still taking in the wonders suddenly laid out in front of him, he blinked quickly and shifted his feet. "Um, Delenn?" He wasn't sure, but... "The artificial gravity isn't active?"
"No." She glanced absently over toward the panel that had drawn his attention, dim lights indicating it still sat ready for activation. "The White Star will continue to provide us with artificial gravity until we leave the docking bay. The ship's sensors will register the change and activate gravity only when it becomes necessary to do so."
"Useful," he commented. He didn't bother not to sound impressed.
A smile flickered on her lips. "The energy required to maintain the gravity field of a ship this small would make it inefficient to do otherwise."
"Inefficient." He rolled his eyes. "Of course."
She smiled. "Do not worry. I would not let you fall anywhere, I promise."
He leaned a hand on the back of her chair and grinned. Somehow that hadn't been about gravity fields. "Oh, I never doubted it."
They moved out of the docking bay under Delenn's control, with the kind of graceful precision that seemed to pervade everything she did, and as he felt the ship's own artificial gravity kick in over the smooth lift of auto-controlled thrusters, the wonder-filled young boy inside him had never been happier to be dating a Minbari. *Especially* one with a state-of-the-art personal flyer to her name.
"Would you like to try?"
His eyes lit up suddenly as he snapped back to look at her, reminding her of two tiny, blazing suns in his excitement at the idea. "Seriously?!"
"I would not have made the offer if I were not serious." She flipped back the harness and turned her chair towards him, rising smoothly into his arms and laying a hand on his chest. "I will never have your full attention again unless I allow you to play," she teased. "Sit."
"Delenn, I don't know if-"
"Sit," she repeated firmly. "Where else will you have the chance? And there is hardly anything for us to collide with," she added with a soft laugh. She stepped out from between him and the chair and held out a hand in gesture to the unattended console, playing a silent rhythm of lights in perfect synch even without her supervision. His fingers touched the edge of the panel with something close to tenderness as he slid into the chair - that Fury wasn't likely to get much of a workout after today, he thought elatedly. He should have figured that any ship of Delenn's would be this beautiful. He didn't want to think about how much it was worth... he certainly wouldn't trust himself with anything close to this if it were his, that was for sure.
"There, you see? It is not so difficult."
He arched his eyebrows. "Delenn, you left the autopilot on."
She smiled patiently, a touch of amusement in her eyes, and reached across him - a little closer than necessary, he was certain, not that he was interested in complaining - to disengage the offending system.
He felt the change immediately beneath his hands - why should it surprise him that it was so much more responsive on top of everything else? - and struggled to compensate. Too quickly, he realised almost instantly, and a little too far since he was so totally unused to such sensitive controls. Even his clumsy attempts to bring them back onto the flight path interpreted as a smooth wave of movement, rather than the sudden jerk of thruster burns that he was prepared for, which only served to disorient him further. He cursed softly under his breath, trying to lighten his touch and forget the Earthforce conditioning that said such delicate contact would be useless on manual controls like these. "Damn, this could take some getting used to..."
"*Shuttle one to Minbari flyer. You're drifting off course, is everything all right?*"
Sheridan winced and waved a quick hand over the comm panel. "We're fine over here, Commander. Just a little glitch, nothing to worry about. *Zhalen* out." He looked up at Delenn, flashing her a sheepish grin. "Maybe we should leave the ship to do its job, huh?"
To her credit, she was *trying* not to laugh. "Perhaps it would be for the best." Sheridan chuckled and reactivated the autopilot - at least he could manage *that* much - before slipping out of the pilot's seat, still not failing to be impressed by the simple ability to walk around in normal gravity on such a tiny craft. Granted he had to stoop a little in the main cockpit, but that was hardly surprising given that it was Delenn's ship, and the builders probably hadn't intended for a rather taller, broader Human to be trying out the controls.
He held out a hand and pulled her towards him... and failed to take into account the implication of such a low ceiling combined with such a sudden movement. "Ouch!" He jerked his head back in reflex as her crest struck his jawline at exactly the most painful angle, with quite a noticeable *crack*. "Damn it..."
"John?" She took a half-step back and reached out a concerned hand to touch his face, searching for what had sounded from his shout like a relatively serious injury. "Are you all right?"
"Ah, I'm okay." He smiled - if a little lop-sidedly - and caught her hand in his to placate her concern. "I should have seen that one coming, sooner or later." He brushed the throbbing area gingerly and inspected his fingers, glad to find that at least she hadn't drawn any blood. "The perils of dating a Minbari, huh?"
"You should be more careful," she teased, laying a hand tenderly on his cheek. He scowled mock-seriously and rubbed his jaw, rolling his eyes upward.
"I'm kinda stuck for space around here, Delenn." He gave her a bemused look. "I'm guessing whoever built this thing didn't design with the *Kama Sutra* in mind..." Her curious look made him laugh, pulling her to him as he sank back into the passenger chair. "It's a book - a pretty old one. I'll get you a copy." Better than allowing her to research for herself - he *really* didn't want to imagine Delenn scouring the Zocalo for sex manuals, however ancient. "I think you'd enjoy reading it," he assured her. "Probably come in useful, too." Delenn raised a brow, curious.
"Oh? What is it about, that I would be so interested?"
He told her.
In Sheridan's estimation, those brief few hours alone in Delenn's flyer had to have been, without even the question of a shadow of a doubt, the *best* shuttle trip of his life. Absolutely nothing could top being with the woman he loved, doing something he loved - several somethings, his preoccupied brain reminded him rather proudly, even if there wasn't much to be done in that amount of space - knowing not only was he the only Human to be blessed with dating a Minbari, but that he was also possibly the only one with a promise of flyer lessons and instant access to as much state-of-the-art Minbari tech as he could wrap his mind around. A little more free time to take up the offer wouldn't go amiss... but having most of the day with Delenn, even if they hadn't always been alone, had been such a blessing that he wasn't about to push his luck on that one. Nope, he mused with an inward grin - at least in his personal life, things didn't get much better than this.
Unfortunately, they did get a hell of a lot worse. Rather sharply.
"Captain Sheridan." That tone said instantly that he was in deep, deep trouble unless he could pull a significantly detailed rabbit out of his hat. "Could you please explain to me where you have been, *what* you have been doing and why there is a fraudulent entry in the station logs?"
"Certainly, Mister Endawi." His smile was instant, the words out of his mouth even before he realised he couldn't follow them up. He choked mentally, his mind whirring helplessly even as his outward expression switched instantly to polite autopilot. Oh, *shit*! All that time on the journey back, hours and hours alone, and they hadn't *once* thought of coming up with an excuse if they got caught?! "We were-"
"Assisting my government by towing a damaged shuttle to a nearby jumppoint." Delenn smiled innocently at the scowling man, her face the perfect expression of polite diplomacy. Ivanova leapt in on the welcome excuse instantly - possibly a little too suddenly to his mind, but then he had become something of a connoisseur of excuse-making in recent months.
"And *why* was there no mention of this in the station's logs? It seems straightforward enough."
Delenn had provided the perfect alibi - it was only right to run with it, he considered privately. "Ah - it was a diplomatic shuttle, carrying important government documents. We were asked, as a courtesy to the Minbari," he nodded to her, swallowing back the urge to burst out laughing at her studiously innocent expression, "to keep this strictly off the record, to avoid embarrassing the Minbari government." He raised an eyebrow. "Now; was there anything else we can do for you, Mister Endawi?"
The guy wasn't entirely satisfied, he could tell, but with Delenn standing here there wasn't a whole lot he could do about his suspicions. Good God, was she actually batting her eyelashes at him? He was beginning to wonder if she hadn't learnt *too* much about manipulating Human men. He hoped she never turned that particular expression on him when they were working, or he was likely to get into some *serious* trouble.
"No, as a matter of fact, I was just leaving. I have all that I came for." He nodded to Delenn - noticeably just enough to be polite and very little more, whatever he said of those 'good relations' - and Sheridan was just as glad that he only merited a glance before the irritating little man disappeared. Delenn glanced up at him, and he shared her brief look of concern as well as her quiet sigh of relief. *Secrets behind secrets,* he thought with resignation. Was life really supposed to be this damn complicated?
"Captain?" Ivanova looked over at him, jerking her head toward the exit, and he winced inside on remembering that yet again, he had meetings to rush off and attend to.
There was one thing left to do first, however. "I'll be up in ten." Ivanova nodded, lengthening her stride to catch up to Garibaldi as he hung back.
"Delenn?" She looked distracted; he touched her elbow lightly, recapturing her attention, and she looked back up to him. "Can I talk to you for a second?" A light tilt of her head indicated a yes and he drew her briefly behind a sturdy-looking pile of cargo crates, leaning down towards her and tightening his hand on her arm. He didn't try to hide his relief, or his gratitude for her timely interruption. "I owe you for that."
Her warm hand covered his, drawing him further into the quiet shadows of the large bay, and she smiled reassuringly up at him. "It was necessary, and I could help. You know I will do whatever I can." She arched her brow, green eyes dancing with amusement. "You will find some way to repay me, I'm sure."
He whistled softly, shaking his head even though he was smiling at the idea. "It'll take me a while. You realise I was about half an inch from a court martial hearing with that guy?" The smile faded for a moment, his eyes clouding. "If Earthforce managed to find out about what we did today..."
"John." She quieted him with a gentle smile, squeezing his hand briefly where it still lay beneath hers. "Don't worry. No one will find out, I promise you. The Rangers are trained for situations like this; they will take every precaution." He nodded, but she could tell as they walked out into the light that he was still tense. "You should relax," she admonished, quietly enough that she hoped it would not be heard by those around them. "You have no need to be concerned for now. Everything is fine, if only for a short while." She frowned softly in concern. "It's not good for you to worry so much, John."
He nodded and rotated his shoulders slightly, forcing those few muscles that still acquiesced to his control to at least appear relaxed. "I know. Still..." He stopped and leaned a little closer with a quick, private smile, his voice quiet and sincere. "I'm glad I have you to remind me. Thank you."
She smiled and bowed lightly to him in farewell. "It was my pleasure, Captain."
He grinned, vivid memories still echoing in his head as he watched her walk out into the corridor. *Oh, it was definitely that.* But still... even knowing she was willing to do that for him, he couldn't help a brief twinge of concern as he remembered something else.
"Delenn." He caught up with her just as she reached the transport tube and laid a discreet hand on her arm. "Isn't it against the rules for a Minbari to lie?"
She shrugged very slightly. "Not necessarily. I admit, it was as much to protect my own honor as yours, but I believe the argument still holds. Besides... what was that phrase? Oh." The tube opened and she stepped inside, the doors closing on her smiling sweetly back at him. "Damn the rules."
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