CEREMONIES II: MOVING INTO THE LIGHT

By Leyenn

 

 

 

Okay, part two of my 'Ceremonies Of Light And Dark'/'Sic Transit Vir' interpretation. This one has sex, and damn well lots of it since the first part got too long to quite fit the scenes in. And it's now a 3-parter, although hopefully I can be a bit quicker getting part 3 out than I was with this one! If you want them even faster you'll just have to yell my way - the address is right there, yes, just a little bit lower.... that's it! ;)

 

 

 

 

*****

   On Earth, or Minbar, or Epsilon Three where it was high summer on the surface, the day probably dawned bright and warm and possibly even hot. Most days, anyone on Babylon 5 would have traded gladly for any of the three - today, however, even in a relatively small bedroom with no windows, the station still managed to outdo most of the civilised galaxy on that score.

   Delenn opened her eyes, smiling; recognising the touch of John's fingers, she wasn't surprised to find him looking down at her, propped again on his uninjured arm and his free hand toying with her hair.

   "Hey." He smiled. "Did I wake you?"

   "Yes." She reached up to kiss him good morning, wriggling closer and wrapping her arms around him. "It would be nice to always wake that way."

   Sheridan chuckled, sliding his healthy arm under her shoulders to hold her close. "Well, why don't I see what I can do about that?"

   "Mmm." She nuzzled her face into the hollow of his neck. "I would like that."

   "Sounds pretty good from this end, too." His fingers twined in her hair again; she closed her eyes, savouring the warmth of his presence beside her and his touch caressing her so gently. "You're beautiful when you're sleeping, you know. So - peaceful, I guess." He smoothed a tangled strand of hair, his lips brushing her crest and his voice low, as if in wonder. "I never realised I could see your soul that easily."

   Delenn smiled. Hardly surprised, though, to his own slight confusion.

   "It is simple enough, is it not?" Her pleased gaze told him she knew what he meant. He raised his eyebrows lightly.

   "Been watching me?"

   She smiled again, a little sheepish. "It is a ritual, among Minbari. When two people become close, as we are close... when they choose to be married, it is tradition that the female spend three nights watching the male."

   He looked a little bemused, sitting up to look down on her. "Watching for what?"

   Delenn laughed softly. "For your soul, my Captain. What else is there I should see?"

   He chuckled. "Nothing you don't already, I'm sure." His eyebrows rose in curious amusement then. "So... what does my soul look like?"

   It took her a moment to answer, searching for the words to something he knew didn't really have an explanation. But he did know one thing. "I'll bet it's got your name on it."

   She smiled tenderly. "John..."

   "Shh." He put a finger on her lips, held it there for a moment as their eyes met and then replaced it with his mouth. "We have a while before we get up."

   "Mm." A sultry smile brushed her lips as she pulled him back down to the bed and climbed easily up onto his chest. "Perhaps you will let me see your soul again, for a little while."

   "Love to." His arm still felt heavy, but the other was good enough and Delenn seemed happy to do most of the work. He didn't remember Anna, or anyone for that matter, ever knowing him as well as Delenn had come to know him. His body, his heart, and now his soul... and soon his home as well, he thought with an inward smile. Not that she didn't already. She caught his expression, leaning down to kiss him as he wrapped his arm around her.

   "You look thoughtful," she murmured, the words warming his neck. He chuckled, humming quietly as she kissed his chest.

   "It's okay. Just... thinking about you..."

   Her eyes sparkled, her voice rippling with amusement - and pleasure, as she looked up and shifted to take him into her body. "I hope you don't think I mind..."

   "I wasn't getting that impression," he assured her with a quiet chuckle. Delenn laughed softly; the gentle sound became a sigh as he slid into her, unable to help smiling at her expression. *God, you're beautiful, Delenn...* She sighed quietly again as he eased his hands down her back, gently lifting her hips in counterpoint to his own light, patient movements. "You know, you even sound gorgeous?"

   "So I am told," she teased with a soft laugh. "Mmmmm... I like that..." Warm, delicate kisses traced down her neck, along her shoulder. "Why did I not decide to live with you before this?"

   Sheridan chuckled, his breath warming her throat as he traced a lazy path back to her mouth. This was the first real time he'd had alone with her for days, and her permanent arrival in his bed deserved some sort of special treatment. Not to mention it was morning, earlier than he usually awoke, and he damn well wasn't in the mood to rush anything - *especially* Delenn.

   "You think Londo and G'Kar'll feel left out when they catch on?"

   It was Delenn's turn to laugh, albeit rippling with pleasure as he rolled his hips and pushed slowly into her again. "Perhaps we should... *mmm*... give them official notice..."

   He grinned. "What, you want me to invite them to the housewarming?" She looked confused, but given their situation she couldn't hold the expression for long. "It's an Earth tradition to... celebrate... moving into a new place." He gave her a mock-warning frown, sliding deeply into her for emphasis. "If you ask them to join us..."

   "John!" His name was half laughter and half mortification at such teasing. "If there could possibly be another who held any interest for me, it would certainly not be G'Kar. *Or* Londo Mollari," her voice held disdain for even the thought, disbelief that he would suggest such a thing. Sheridan smiled, amused, pulling her down to caress her face in reassurance.

   "I'm kidding, honey. Trust me, no one else is gonna see what we can do together. Not in here," he assured her with a gentle tap on the lips. "Nothing out there can put a candle to what you do to me." She had to feel that, to sense it in his reaction to their intimacy even if it wasn't as single-minded as they usually were. Morning lovemaking, unless it was three am and neither of them had slept, had always been high on the risk list and low on the agenda; never a desperate problem, but there weren't many better ways to start a day. Lying in her arms, warm and lazy and comfortable, he actually felt ready to face whatever the galaxy had to throw at them. "How did I get to be the lucky one, Delenn?" She looked at him, surprised. "I can't imagine not loving you, but to have you here..."

   A soft, beautiful smile touched her lips, and she sat up slowly to gaze down at him. "I love you. You know that. Is it so strange for you to imagine I would want to be with you?"

   He chuckled, running a gentle hand down her side. "You know I'd've said something by now. It's just... it's been a while since I started living with someone, let alone got engaged. Again." He flashed her a grin, and she responded with a smile of amusement.

   "At least *you* have done this before."

   "You haven't?" She shook her head, settling her hips comfortably over his: he raised his eyebrows in surprise, despite his eyes narrowing absently as her weight lowered completely onto him. "Mmm.... and you're not worried about living with me?" Her eyes shone with amusement and he caught her hand, stroking his fingers along her wrist. "I'm serious, Delenn."

   "What is there to concern me? I love you, and you love me. I know it may not be easy," she assured him on seeing his slight frown of concern. Her eyes sparkled and she shifted her hips, watching his eyes briefly close in pleasure. "But then, nothing worthwhile ever is."

   He smiled, still lazy enough not to bother opening his eyes; apparently deciding they had talked for too long, he slid one hand up to her shoulders and pulled her back down to him. Her lips met his in a warm, passionate kiss and he rolled her carefully onto her back. If the wound she had taken for him was still painful, she made no mention of it: not that she would have noticed, given the heat pooling in other areas of her body right now. Sheridan's hands roamed her back, cupping her buttocks to tilt her hips against his thrusting. She moaned loudly at the friction that produced and he smiled at the sound, tugging gently at her thigh to encourage her to lift her legs around him. She managed after a fashion; obviously the injury was still tender, and he ducked his head to her shoulder to murmur a breathless apology for the movement. Her answer, as usual when he was inside her so deeply, was a kiss; Sheridan smiled and rolled her over slightly for a moment to cup a protective hand tenderly over the healing wound. She rewarded him with a beautiful smile for his thoughtfulness, her own hands on his back as she rocked against his steadily impatient thrusts. His other hand came up to her hair, rubbing her crest as he lifted his hips to brush her clit with each long, deep thrust. Her head tipped back at the intensity of sensation: he grinned and settled his head under her chin, biting playfully at her shoulder as she moaned loudly into the silent room.

   "Hmm... that good, hon?"

   "Mmmmm...." Coherent words were beyond her now, her body arching to meet him and straining for release at each penetration. "Ohhh... Johhhnnn...."

   "You like that..." He never bothered to ask now, knowing without needing to waste her time in telling him. "There, hmm... just there..." His fingertips found the root of her crest, increasing the pressure as he thrust desperately now into her body. "God, Delenn..."

   "*Valen*," she gasped breathlessly, in playful retort or her own prayer he wasn't entirely sure... the latter he suspected as her hand slid into his hair, pulling him up to kiss her as anything but gasps and moans went out of the vocabulary for good. "Ohhh... ohh, John..."

   "Love you," he whispered into her mouth, his soulful gaze meeting hers as he tore away from her kisses to gasp for air. "Love you so much, Delenn..."

   "Yesss...." Her body arched helplessly, rigid and almost painful for a moment as he thrust hard into her again: a blissful sob tore from her lips, moans of pleasure echoing deep in her throat as she shuddered with the force of her orgasm. Her muscles clenched around him and he groaned loudly into her shoulder, unsure and uncaring if he marked her in that endless, ecstatic moment of pleasure. It didn't matter: she was *his*, his now, his forever...

   She was gasping, almost sobbing for breath against his shoulder; he stroked her hair onto the pillows, rocking back as he slipped from her body to look down at her flushed and beautiful face beneath him.

   "Delenn..." His voice was rough, sounding very quiet next to the thudding of his heartbeat against hers. "Oh, Lord, that was..."

   "I am supposed to be resting," she chided him in a distinctly breathless voice. He sucked in a half-breath and laughed, rolling over and pulling her smoothly on top of him, his eyes shining.

   "So tell me you don't feel fantastic after that."

   "Minbari do not lie," she reminded him with a smile. Sheridan grinned back, reaching up to kiss her gently as her fingertips ran affectionately through his hair, sliding down his back, touching and caressing with a persistence he felt just as strongly. He drew her legs up to one side, easing her back onto the bed to curl up behind her. His hands were warm and strong as they explored her skin - not deliberately arousing, but hardly able to avoid it with the heat of shared pleasure still buzzing between them. She hummed softly as he brushed the inside of her hip with his fingertips, nestling back into him and covering his hand with hers to keep the contact. A familiar if somewhat unexpected hardness pressed into the small of her back; she gave him a surprised smile at the clearly pleased look on his face.

   "You will be late for work," she laughed quietly. He growled playfully back and nuzzled the back of her neck, making her shiver as his fingers brushed feather-light across her bare skin.

   "Hell, they're probably expecting it. Everyone knows what's going on by now," he muttered into her hair. "Besides, it's all quiet around here for once and there's nothing urgent that needs doing..."

   There was a bleep.

   They'd left the damn doors open.

   And the equally damned comm unit on.

   "*Captain, I- Captain?*"

   He let out a loud and *very* furious groan. Only *one* person, *one* person in the world could choose this moment to interrupt.

   "*SUSAN*...."

   The profanities that suddenly filled the room would, had she not known exactly the feeling, had Delenn almost angry that he would use such language in front of her. "-and goddamn you to fucking rot in hell, you little-"

   "Captain?" Half-wrapped in a short robe and looking far too mussed to see anyone but Delenn right now, he managed - although muttering curses the entire way - to reach the offending screen and answer his similarly offending exec.

   Taking in his obvious state of undress and the look in his eyes, she should have come up with a better response. Really she should. Unfortunately, she found the worst one possible the only choice floating immediately in her head. "Is this a bad time?"

   "*Yes*." Sheridan's tone suggested nothing quite so much as rabid werewolves snapping at a rather tattered leash. "You'd better make this a good one, Susan. I mean it."

   "Yessir." To her credit, given that there was no way in hell she didn't know what they'd been doing, Ivanova *did* manage to keep a remotely professional face - out of embarrassment, most likely, but he'd take any shred of dignity right now. "Well, Captain... it's a little odd to explain, but we've got a problem with Vir. I think you need to see this."

   "What kind of problem?" She looked a little uncomfortable, obviously still faced with her unwitting intrusion; he sighed, running a hand through his hair to aim for some semblance of tidiness. "I'll be there in an hour. Have him *and* Londo ready to meet once you've explained this 'problem'."

   "I'll have them meet us in Londo's quarters." She gave him a curt nod, still looking more than a little embarrassed as she signed off. Sheridan swung round from the screen and sighed, shaking his head in severe annoyance. One day, just *one* *day* - was it so much to ask of the universe? Just one day with the time and privacy to be with Delenn without everyone else needing something from one of them or the other. He hadn't gotten a birthday present in a few years now, he remembered wryly. Did Father Time give back pay? *Probably not.*

   "John?"

   She was standing in the doorway to the bedroom, smiling tenderly at his irritation. She was standing there... She was... standing...

   There was something about a naked, smiling Delenn that made his brain forget completely how to function. He'd known that for a long time now... contributing severely to his downfall in the willpower department, however, was that fact that she obviously knew it too.

   "Ohhh, Delenn." He shook his head, positive there was something else that should be occupying his mind at that instant even though he couldn't care less what it was. "Honey, come on, don't do this to me..."

   "I was going to take a shower," she informed him with an innocent little shrug and a coy smile. "It seemed silly to put on a robe simply to walk to the bathroom." Her brow arched softly, the smile teasing him now as she pushed away from the door and stepped towards him. "Would you not agree?"

   "Hmm." He couldn't tear his eyes from her, didn't want to as she came closer and opened his own robe, slipping her hands inside. "*Hmm*... yes, now, I'd definitely agree with you there..."

   "I thought you might." Warm hands traced the muscles of his chest up to his shoulders, pushing the robe down as he tugged off the belt at his waist. It fell open, dropping to the floor; she smiled again, leaning into his arms to press a soft kiss over his heart. "You have an hour until you are needed, do you not?"

   "Yeah." His hands skimmed her waist, coming to rest at the small of her back to pull her to him. "Not as long as I would've liked, but..."

   "Long enough," she murmured with a glint in her eyes. He chuckled.

   "Yeah, long enough. Isn't it always?"

   Delenn smiled lovingly, reaching up to kiss him tenderly on the lips. "Always, and yet it never will be." Before he could react to that her hand slipped into his and she stepped out of his arms, drawing him back towards the bedroom. "Come."

   He raised his eyebrows, flashing a smile. "Is that a request or an offer?"

   Her answering expression was as close to predatory as he'd ever seen on her - evidently proposing marriage could have more of an effect than he'd been led to believe before, he noted with amusement. And what was the reason he hadn't done it before? Because it just wouldn't come to mind right now... probably since Delenn was still looking at him that way, he reasoned half-logically. After all, when his gorgeous fiancee was standing completely nude before him in the bedroom that had very recently become theirs... well he could hardly be expected to keep going with the higher brain functions. The lower ones seemed to be taking over quite nicely, though, he knew that much. Oh, hell, he had to be out of here in an hour -

   She pulled him through to the bathroom, her eyes sparkling as they followed the line of his body and noticed the exact same thing that occupied his own mind right now. He grinned at her expression, backing her into the shower with a mock-irritated scowl.

   "Well, if I hadn't been so rudely interrupted..." Delenn laughed and he grinned suggestively down at her, reaching out to flip on the taps. Water sprayed hard in his face: her laughter only increased as he spluttered, shaking his head and ducking towards her to evade the sudden barrage. She was standing there looking deeply amused, and he frowned lightly at her.

   "Not exactly setting the mood, is it?"

   Delenn gave him a curious smile, her amusement still clear but just a little challenging. "I do not recall ever needing to set a 'mood' before," she reminded him with an arched brow.

   He had to admit that was true - after all, it was relatively early in the morning, they were both naked, and showers had never been his strong point when it came to controlling himself around Delenn... He ducked under the water spray again and captured her mouth with his, and moments later they were kissing passionately in the rapidly steaming room. Not needing to undress her definitely had its strong points, he noted with a soft grunt of pleasure as a very wet and naked Delenn pushed him up against the side of the small cubicle. Not needing to *get* undressed was an even better prospect. He enjoyed teasing her that way, taking his time over her, but his own clothes always seemed to just get in the way - no, this was definitely the better option, especially given that they had to be relatively quick and Delenn was plainly in no mood for teasing. Her hands were already low on his back, pressing him against her; he eased his injured arm down to the base of her spine, stroking fingertips down the sensitive skin there. She moaned softly, arching against him and deepening their already fervent kiss; he pulled back, taking in a fast gulp of air and touching her lips lightly with a finger. "Shh. Got a plan..."

   "John..." Oh God, it was so hard to think of anything when she sighed his name like that. What was it he was trying to find again? Shower gel, that was it, that foamy stuff she liked... there, was that the one? It was hard to tell, since Delenn's impatience meant that his attention was pretty much elsewhere again. His hand closed around what he thought was the right container and he moved back a step to grin down at her, pushing her gently but firmly back against the opposite wall.

   "Plan," he repeated, brandishing his prize with a suggestive grin. "We're supposed to be taking a shower, remember? Usually suggests some sort of washing involved." He flipped the cap, grinning at her sudden expression of anticipation as the compressed gel squirted out into his palm. "Besides, I for one do not want the water ration running out at the wrong moment because we took too long getting to the 'showering' part." The container briefly back on its shelf, he rubbed his hands together to foam up the gel and lowered his voice in a good imitation of his command tone. "Now, you just stand right there..."

   She sighed quietly again as he touched her; strong, gentle hands went to her shoulders to hold her still, knowing how easily she could react to him, before sliding carefully down her arms to smooth the foam into her skin. It felt wonderful to have him touch her this way, so carefully and reverently, his attention riveted on her body and covering every inch of her with his hands. He cupped her breasts gently in each hand for a moment, brushing over her nipples, fingers rubbing the smooth foam lightly into her skin before moving again. Another sigh escaped her as his hands ran down her sides - one a little slower than the other, she noticed, but he said nothing of any pain there might be from the movement. His fingers touched sensitive skin where he knew she would react; her eyes fluttered closed and she leaned back into the wall, losing sense of everything but the way John caressed her, his hands gliding over her skin and guiding her legs apart...

   This time she jumped at his touch, too relaxed to be expecting the sudden sexuality she felt there: his other hand still rested on her hip, and she opened her eyes to find warm blue eyes gazing into hers with an amused smile at her surprise.

   "I said I had a plan..." His hand moved further between her legs, pressing tightly against her, and she gasped softly as a soapy finger slipped against her clitoris. "Good, huh?"

   Her reply was more of a sigh than coherent words. "Mmm.... yes..."

   "I was hoping you'd like it." He circled her center lightly with that gentle fingertip, leaning down to brush a light kiss over her lips. Delenn relaxed into him, sensation closing in on that intimate touch as the security of his embrace came around her. Her eyes slipped closed again and she reached out blindly to touch him, her head tipping back against the wall and moaning quietly as he quickened the caress. All thought of anything but his touch fled her mind; her hands grasped instinctively at his shoulders, nails digging into his skin as he rubbed harder, faster in ohhh, *exactly* the right place... She could feel him watching her, imagining his face in her mind, knowing what seeing her like this could do to him - he slid one finger inside her and she arched into his hand, writhing under the spray of water on her skin and the exquisite pleasure burning under his fingers. "John..."

   "I've got you, love." His voice was a murmur, as quiet as hers but soft and encouraging as she arched her body against him. "I'm here, just tell me where..."

   "I-inside..." Her eyelids fluttered open, just for a moment as she lifted her head, and she felt him press harder at the raw passion in her eyes for him. "I want... John, *please*... there..." She gasped as a second finger pushed deeper into her, his thumb taking over to rub hard, relentless circles around her clit. Every muscle tensed, the water pounding on her skin as every nerve burned impossibly for his touch... she pressed all her weight into his hand, onto his fingers as they plunged deep into her, stroked and rubbed her to bring her to the edge, close, so close... Her hips bucked against his hand, grinding into him and that low growl of arousal he let out only intensifying her own pleasure. There was such a primal joy in this, in giving herself to him so completely and knowing his reaction to it as she came violently under his skilful fingers, dug her nails into his flesh and screamed his name...

   The still-pounding water echoed her thudding heartbeat, her hands trembling as they moved restlessly over his chest. Sheridan chuckled softly, pulling her forward into his arms to support her shaking body and stroking his hand gently down her back to calm her. Her head rested over his heart, her breathing heavy; after a long moment she looked up at him, her face flushed but managing a smile at the expression she saw on his face.

   "God, I love watching you like that." There was an almost possessive light in his eyes as he gazed down at her. "If I had more time..."

   "I think it is better that you don't." She was still gasping for breath but he definitely heard a laugh ripple through her voice. "I do not know if I could withstand it."

   He chuckled at that, burying a kiss in her hair. "You can cope with anything." She gave him a look and he grinned broadly. "So, you liked that..."

   The only answer he got was her mouth on his, her hands sliding into his hair and her body pressing close to his again in the small cubicle. This time it was Delenn who took control, pushing him back to the nearest wall and stretching up to press her hips to his; her hands slid down to his shoulders, the water drawing rivulets between her fingertips as she stroked his wet skin, enjoying the soft noises drawn from his throat as she flicked her nails lightly over his nipples. His palm spread wide on her back, rubbing down her spine, pressing her into him as the other hand tangled loosely in her hair. Her lips and tongue explored his neck, biting gently at his collarbone and down to his chest, licking and sucking at the water still rolling over his shoulders. He let out a soft moan as her mouth covered a taut nipple, her fingertips only just grazing the skin of his belly before oh God -

   "I liked that." She sounded as if she was laughing, or at least profoundly amused, as his head dropped back against the wall and a rough groan answered the grasp of her hand around his rigid erection. "Very much..." Her other hand left his skin; he frowned as she lifted her head for a moment, but when he managed to find her hand movement in the steamy room, the sudden jolt of arousal as he saw what she was holding became more than enough compensation.

   "Delenn-"

   "Shh." She drew her fingertips from the base of his shaft, stroking up to the tip with a torturously light caress and a pleased smile as his hips bucked to follow her movement. "Stay still," her voice commanded in a somewhat imperious tone. He tipped his head back, his eyes closing and trying desperately not to just grab her shoulders and grind her up against the opposite wall. Not that Delenn would likely have minded, he could tell... The sudden image made him groan quietly from between his teeth, his penis twitching at the imagined sensations - and then at the reality, blissful and hot and almost painfully pleasurable as her hands, slick and foamy, closed around his thick shaft. He could feel himself close already as she moved one soapy hand up to encircle the sensitive head, rubbing and fondling him, a soft, satisfied hum vibrating against his chest as her lips closed around his taut nipple. Her free hand strayed down his length, rubbing almost absently up and down as he growled and moaned under her exploring mouth. She took his nipple gently between her teeth, her tongue flicking out to taste the mixture of clean water and warm skin, and he groaned low in his throat at the added sensation. God, she was going to kill him from the pleasure, from her touching him and fondling him and coaxing his already rigid erection in that way she had always known far too well -

   He grabbed her arm, pulling her hands roughly from him to try and hold back just that little longer as he pushed her backward, steaming water making him grunt under his breath as it washed what little foam was left from his body. She met his eyes with a look of pure heat, already stretching up to try and match the difference in height between them when she saw a flash of something else in his features.

   "John?"

   "S'okay..." He took a breath, arousal dampened suddenly by the stab of pain that had shot through his arm. "It's nothing. I'm fine," he assured her in a low tone, his mouth already seeking hers again.

   "It is not nothing." Her fingers touched the edge of the bandage, glad at least that Stephen had had the good sense to provide one that was waterproof. "You should be careful..."

   He smiled dryly. "Well, unless you're planning on doing something to me - other than what I was expecting, anyway-"

   "I do not want to be responsible for injuring you again," she chided gently. He raised an eyebrow, looking amused if a little impatient.

   "You've done it before?"

   "John." Her tone was a reprimand. He tilted her head up and kissed her deeply to quiet the protest, his hands sliding down to cup her buttocks and already lift her close to him.

   "Shh." He whispered it against her lips, his voice filled with intense arousal as her hips shifted instinctively toward him. "Forget it. I need you..."

   She smiled, half in defeat and half arousal at the heat in his tone, reaching up the last few millimeters to meet his passionate kiss; his tongue parted her lips and she sighed softly into his mouth as he slid one leg between hers. Her arms wrapped around his neck, her nails digging into his shoulders as he lifted her fully into his arms long enough to position her where he wanted her to be. She made a quiet, breathless sound as he pressed against her, the head of his penis rubbing her clitoris, before her voice rose suddenly to cry out in a mix of surprise and satisfaction as he thrust deep into her. He shuddered at the feeling, beyond pleasure and bliss and anything else, of being totally inside her, burying his face in her neck to smother a pure animal growl. The mark he'd left on her before was starting to show; God, when had he turned into this? If this was how desperate a week without her could make him, he just hoped to all heaven that they never had to do without it again, because from the way Delenn was acting she sure as hell wouldn't survive it either... Her head tipped back, finding rest against the wall as he pressed her hard against it and held her there, trying to use that purchase to keep from hurting her in this position. She had enough strength and presence of mind to wrap one leg around his waist, the movement settling them both more comfortably with their difference in height already ensuring he was buried in her to the hilt. He didn't want to hurt her, he'd never forgive himself if he hurt her but oh God, it felt so good to be so deep inside her...

   Her eyes opened to look at him then, filled with heat and passion and an undeniably tender smile, and he knew instantly that she felt it exactly the same - that she wanted him there, completely within her despite his own concerns for her comfort. She touched his cheek for a moment, softly; he smiled wordlessly back into her eyes and kissed her again, teasing her mouth open with his tongue and nipping very lightly at her lower lip before tracing a path down her neck, mouth and tongue returning the caresses she had bestowed on his body. She moaned, loud even under the sound of the water; so did he, desperate to move against her and glad beyond measure when she shifted her weight and arched her back to encourage him.

   "John... please..."

   "I know." The words were a whisper, his voice tight as he grasped her hips and held her still despite the quiet sob of frustration she let out. "I know, I know... just... let me, let me do this..."

   "I want you..." She didn't seem to have heard him, not that he expected her to from the burning need looking back at him through her eyes. "Please - I can't-"

   "Shhh, shh... soon, love..." He lowered his head back to her shoulder, nuzzling against her neck as he drew back from her body. She fought the movement, wanting him still inside her, gasping in sudden pleasure when he thrust back against the tilt of her hips and his length rubbed hard against her clit to make her moan low in her throat. He pulled back again, thrusting harder; her nails scraped his skin and she moaned something in Minbari that he didn't catch, lifting his head to try and remain coherent long enough to look her in the eyes. Complete, helpless arousal gazed back, her lips parting in a sudden gasp as his thrusts grew more desperate under that heated gaze. He grunted harshly in his throat, lifting her completely from the floor, strength borne of just pure *want* as he lost all thought of anything but the feeling of her around him, on him... She was moaning in Minbari, snatches of words he only just recognised and a few he didn't as she stiffened in his arms, straining against him, and he groaned into her neck as he felt her muscles tighten in answer to his thrusting. There were hardly words in Minbari to encourage such wild abandon, but she seemed to manage to find them and he had no doubt of what she might mean as her hands grasped his buttocks, holding him deep inside her and letting the sheer feeling of their joining send them both over the edge.

   "*John*.. I-I.. *ohhh*..." She gave up on English entirely as an unbelievably intense orgasm washed over her, sobs and gasps tearing from her throat when he continued to thrust hard against her, her name growled fiercely in his throat as he plunged over the edge with her and came violently for the second time that morning.

   She collapsed against him, utterly spent, a quiet sound that was little more than a sob emerging from the back of her throat; he stumbled the two short steps back to lean against the blissfully cool wall, tipping his head back and relishing the cleansing water that sprayed down on his face. Delenn must have looked up at him, however small the movement, because he felt her give an exhausted laugh as he closed his eyes and opened his mouth to the warm water. A gentle hand caressed his chest, rubbing absent circles over his heart, as she shifted her weight long enough for him to slide out of her; then her arms came around him and she dragged in a shuddering breath to steady herself, leaning heavily into his embrace. His chest pounded, barely feeling anything except her touch on his skin - how long had they been in here? He vaguely remembered, as memory came back to him, that he didn't have the time to just slide down to the floor and hold her the way his body insisted he should do right now. Work, he was supposed to work...

   "Delenn." He slid one hand down her back, stroking her gently as he nuzzled into her hair. "You okay?"

   She hummed quietly, sounding very satisfied. He chuckled, smiling with more than a little male pride that he could make her feel that way. Not that he didn't know the exact feeling...

   "Delenn." It would be so damned easy to be late, to just tilt her head up and kiss her and keep the world out of their lives for another day... "Delenn, we really have to-"

   "I know." She nestled into his arms for a long moment, enjoying the sensation of his body so close to hers before she looked up into his apologetic smile, touching a light fingertip to his lips. "Shh. I know."

   "If I could stay..." he left the suggestion unfinished, but it showed in his eyes and she smiled at the thought.

   "We will have time, later," she reminded him with a flash of amusement at his impatience. "And Stephen will be very upset if he discovers we have not been resting."

   "Hmm." He rolled his eyes, reluctantly sliding his arms from around her and taking her hand. He couldn't keep from touching her, never could after being so close - her fingers clasped his as he stepped out of the shower and drew her with him, wrapping a towel around his waist before reaching out to stop the water cascading into the now empty shower. "Well, that was a *hell* of a way to christen the thing, at least." She looked up at him, curious, as he handed over a large towel to wrap around her shoulders. "It's... kind of a Human tradition. When a couple move in together, they-" He suddenly realised how stupid this was going to make him sound, not to mention ram home just how absolutely carnal he seemed to be feeling this morning.

   Delenn smiled, amused by his hesitation, and he saw the sparkle in her eyes that said she was intrigued now. "When a couple..." she laid a hand lightly on his chest, absently caressing him, "move in together, they...?"

   "Never mind," he muttered quietly as he covered her hand with his. "It's not important."

   "Oh." There was that tone in her voice, teasing him, that he knew all too well. He sighed.

   "It sounds silly," he admitted. She took a step closer, sliding her palms up his chest with that innocent smile. He gave her a pleading look. "You want me to look stupid?"

   "John." How did she manage to *smile* his name? He'd never worked that out. "There is no one else here. Surely you do not think I will mind if it sounds a little... odd?"

   "It's not odd. Just silly." He sighed, faced by the inquisitive smile in her eyes. "Usually, when Human couples move into a new place, it's kind of traditional to... christen, the bed. And various other areas," he added by way of explanation.

   "I see." She looked serious, but her eyes were sparkling with humor. "And by 'christen', may I presume you mean-"

   "Have sex in, yes." He hoped he didn't look to embarrassed at having brought it up - not that Delenn seemed at all bothered, as always.

   "Why were you so reluctant to tell me? It seems a perfectly reasonable tradition." She saw his eyes light up and laughed, reaching up to kiss him. "Later," she promised in a sultry whisper. "But," she put a fingertip to his lips, "you have duties to attend to which must come first." He nodded reluctantly, but her sincere promise at least but a smile on his lips.

   "Later?"

   "Yes." He grinned at that and she looked at him mock-sternly. "Are you not even going to dress for your meeting?"

   "I guess so." He finished towelling off, dropping the thick towel from his waist and raising his eyebrows at the appreciative gaze that wandered over his body. "Later. Tonight?"

   She smiled, her eyes sparkling up at him. "Anywhere you like."

   He coughed, choking on his breathing for a moment at the flood of images that brought to mind. "*Anywhere*?" Okay, so they weren't exactly conventional a lot of the time anyway, but still... it was a hell of an offer to mull over all day. "You know, I might just be able to cope with even the Centauri with that thought in my head?"

   "I am here to help you," she teased gently as a reminder. Sheridan chuckled.

   "I don't know that it's gonna help, thinking about you like that while I'm working." She'd discarded the warm white towel that had covered her, and she was just a little closer than leaving her alone demanded... and much as his body hated the idea his mind agreed that they really needed to go with clothes right now. It was good that she knew him so well, he reflected as they headed back into the bedroom and she immediately turned away toward the closet. He had no doubt at all that from anyone else's perspective he looked as if he could watch her forever, and only Delenn would know that he didn't need the distraction of watching her dress if he was ever going to make it out of the door in time to get anything done. Thank God, his uniform was still draped over the chair where she'd left it last night. He sat down briefly on the bed to tug on his pants, feeling a little more composed once he was at least half dressed and able to glance across at her as he stood up to shrug on his shirt. She was standing in front of the mirror, a hand on her shoulder, turning her neck slightly to reveal the reddened mark there. He smiled sheepishly as he noticed where her attention lay.

   "Sorry about that."

   Delenn laughed, arranging her collar and catching his eyes in the mirror. "I would be most disappointed if you were."

   He chuckled as he crossed the room to her, sliding his good arm around her waist and nuzzling briefly into her neck. "Mmm... well, being honest? Sexiest damn thing I ever saw on you. And if I didn't have to-"

   "Later," she chided firmly. He made a face in the mirror and she smiled, leaning back into his arms. "Twice is not enough for you?"

   He chuckled, hugging her as best he could with one arm aching so much after their exertions. "Delenn, *decades* are not going to be enough for me where you're concerned. And I plan on having them," he added with a gentle kiss to her temple. Delenn smiled tenderly, covering his hand on her waist with her own.

   "We will have much longer than that, my love." Her eyes shone as she turned to meet his enquiring gaze, her hands coming to rest lightly on his chest. "We are old souls, John. We have longer together than you could ever imagine."

   "Mmm..." His eyes glittered then, fingers tracing the length of her spine beneath her silk robes. "I like the sound of that."

   "And I know why," she teased with a smile. "Is that all that you ever think of?"

   He grinned wolfishly. "Yes."

   She laughed. "It will wait."

   "Not for too long," he retorted with a smile, the depth in his eyes reminding her that his patience, as with hers, only stretched so far. "I hate letting go of you, you know."

   "I know." She kissed him tenderly and took his arm from around her, picking up his jacket from the bed. "But you will be late for work if you do not, and I do not wish to be blamed for it." Sheridan sighed, nodding; she smiled to placate his annoyance and held out the jacket in her hands. He had it just long enough to shrug his good arm in before a badly-concealed wince put a stop to any more movements and she drew the other sleeve up to help him.

   "Delenn." She glanced up for a second and he frowned tiredly. "I've been dressing myself for a long time now. You should know that."

   "You have put enough strain on your arm already." She pushed his hand away, returning the frown with that look in her eyes that said he'd be healthier seeing things her way. Which he probably would, he admitted with a little irritation as he let her ease his arm into the sleeve. He covered a grimace - if she saw it she said nothing, thank God, but he'd obviously done a little more exercise in that shower than he should have and he was silently grateful for her insistence. She looked pretty focussed, he noted with a fond smile - and he would never in a million years have thought there was something sexy about Delenn *dressing* him, but there it was...

   "John." She swatted at the hand creeping around her waist, trying to appear annoyed by his persistence even though she knew he could see through her pretence instantly. He flashed a tiny grin, dropping his hands to his sides.

   "Sorry." *Stand to attention,* he chided himself. God, he wasn't usually like this in the mornings - was he?

   "No, you are not usually so... playful." Her eyes sparkled as she paused briefly in her task to look up at him in answering. "Perhaps it is, as you say, 'something in the air.'"

   He shrugged thoughtfully, but there was a glimmer of amusement in his eyes. "Well whatever it is, must be going around."

   She glanced up, gently easing his arm down to straighten his jacket as she finished fastening his collar with the other hand. "Oh?"

   "When Vir was attacked he was with a woman. Apparently they're getting married soon."

   Delenn smiled, resting both hands briefly on his chest. "Perhaps you should check the air recycling systems."

   He chuckled. "Maybe I should at that." She tilted her head up, and he obligingly kissed her goodbye. "I should go to work."

   "Yes, you should." She smiled tenderly and kissed him quickly again. "I will see you later. And do not get injured again," she warned as an afterthought. Sheridan grinned and nodded.

   "I'll try my best."

 

*****

 

   "And she had to steal *my* picture for the personnel file. She couldn't just piece one together like any normal sneak!"

   Delenn laughed warmly. "Susan would have nothing but the best," she teased from where she sat cuddled against him, feet drawn up easily on the couch. Sheridan chuckled.

   "Ah, well, she'd better not start getting any ideas." He turned and flashed a smile, smothering her quiet laughter in a contented kiss. Delenn hummed softly, chasing his mouth as he drew back and reaching up to pull him down into another lazy kiss. It felt wonderful to be here now, right and comfortable to know that without doubt she would sleep in his arms, waking in the morning without the need to creep from his quarters to hide her feelings for him. Even one night, strangely, seemed to have been enough for her to grow used to the warm security that came with sharing his home. She sat back for a moment, smiling up at him; he returned the expression and nuzzled into her hair, his arms drawing her close. "I love this, you know. Just being with you." He chuckled dryly. "Being *able* to be with you."

   "Mmm." She tilted her head slightly, leaning forward for a moment to pick up the now slightly worn book on the coffee table. He glanced at it and grinned, not needing the title to know what it was she would excavate so quickly from the boxes.

   "You must be the only woman in the galaxy who thinks the English dictionary is a romantic novel."

   Delenn smiled patiently at his words as she opened the cover, tracing a fingertip lightly over the inscription he had written there - a year ago, now;

   'Delenn,
      Maybe there are words in here to describe you, but I'd be surprised.
      From John, on the first morning of many - Earth Calendar 03/15/2259'

   "How did you know?" she asked him softly. He raised his eyebrows in question.

   "What?"

   "That it would be... 'the first of many'," she read quietly. He smiled and lifted his head to kiss the edge of her crest.

   "Did you ever think it wouldn't?"

   She turned her head to look at him, one hand carefully closing the pages and laying the book in her lap. "No. Never."

   He smiled lovingly down at her at those soft words; she touched his face with gentle fingertips, her eyes deep with emotion as she met his gaze for a long moment. Then her eyes closed and she reached up slowly to press her lips to his, and as his arms surrounded her again there was little else left of the world.

   "Mmm..." Sheridan hummed softly against her mouth, tracing light kisses over her soft skin before he finally managed to draw back long enough to meet her gaze. "You think we might actually get the whole night alone?" His tone was somewhere between hope and suggestion, and she answered with a small, absent smile as her fingers found the slight outline of the bandages under his uniform.

   "It looks that way, does it not?"

   He smiled softly at her innocent expression, toying lightly with her hair. "I'm starting to think so..."

   "What did Stephen say about this?" Gentle fingertips traced the length of his arm now, her head still resting lightly on his shoulder, and he could tell by her eyes that concern for his well-being was for once not foremost on her mind.

   "Said it's practically healed... just needs a little exercise." He raised his eyebrows very slightly, a smile touching his lips.

   "Hmm." She shifted her head, studying her hand as it slid down his arm and her palm pressed to his. "I believe we had plans for this evening that may be... useful, if that is the case." She lifted his hand to her mouth, gently kissing his wrist, the tip of her tongue stroking along strong tendons before moving up to caress his palm with a sprinkling of soft kisses. A quiet sound that could only be a purr vibrated in her throat, shivers running up his spine at the sensuality in her touch. Her lips traced each finger in turn, lingering at the tip of his index finger for a moment before taking it gently, lovingly in her mouth. Her eyes closed, the look on her face one of simple, sensuous pleasure, and he had no doubt that this was an impulse she simply had no desire to ignore. Her tongue brushed his skin, guiding a second finger between her lips and suckling slowly on whatever it was she tasted on him. He wondered what that was, and if he tasted as good as she did when his mouth was on her skin. Soft and smooth and unique, a clean, fruity warmth... the memory was clear, but he didn't need it. She was here in his arms, his lover and partner and soon to be his wife, that vibrant warmth she embodied already so much a part of his life as it was now a part of his home. There was an urge to kiss her building in his chest, needing to taste that memory again, but her lips were otherwise occupied and it was beyond impossible to disturb that look on her face. Instead he leaned close and slipped his arm tighter around her waist, his hand splayed across her back to pull her further against him as he nuzzled into her neck. A soft laugh purred over his ear when he touched a sensitive spot, her pulse quickening delightfully as he kissed the fading bite mark at the curve of her neck and was rewarded with her soft cheek brushing against his. The whisper in his ear was a little earthier than Adronato - Lenn'ah, he guessed, from the words she came up with and the definitely sexual inflection she managed to give them. The Minbari might not consider their Worker caste all that important, but if their rather descriptive language was anything to go by then in Sheridan's estimation, they were by far the best of the bunch.

   "You wanna do that to me?" Delenn made a quiet sound that was quite obviously a yes, and he chuckled as he turned his head to look at her. "I'm all yours, you know that. Anything you want..."

   "I believe that was my promise," she teased. Sheridan grinned.

   "Believe me, I haven't forgotten."

   Delenn gave him a look that was almost solid heat, and he couldn't help but wonder if she had Worker caste blood in her somewhere down the line. "Good."

   Or Vorlon blood, perhaps - although he'd never heard them give the word that fierce heat that echoed in her voice. He cupped one hand lightly to her face and kissed her then, and by the immediate passion that answered him, he was quite sure that whatever blood happened to be running through her was definitely going through a Human moment right then. Whether he pushed her back onto the couch or whether the movement was her idea, he wasn't sure; all he knew was that her arms were around him, his hand on her face sliding up to twine his fingers in her hair, and he didn't remember the last time he'd managed to find so much passion after such an exhausting day. Not that it was difficult, with Delenn... and especially lately, for some reason. She moaned softly into his mouth, arching beneath him to press her body closer to his, and he gave up all pretence of anything resembling patience at the sensations that brought. There would be time enough later to do this properly, after all, and right now it was just enough to have her in his arms without worrying about where they were. So a couch wasn't the most civilised place to be making love to his Ambassador - it wasn't as if they hadn't done it before, and at least this time...

   This time, it was *theirs*.

   There was a curious light in his eyes when he looked down at her then, reluctantly breaking the passionate kiss to catch a shallow breath and tenderly brush a few stray hairs from her face. She shifted obligingly beneath him as his hands slid down to her waist, finding her belt, and she couldn't help but laugh at the triumphant look on his face when he didn't even need to glance down to rid her of it.

   "You are becoming very good at that," she teased, her own hands working easily at removing the uniform she had helped him into that morning. Sheridan grinned, propping himself on one elbow to give her room and stroking her hair absently with his fingers.

   "I have some incentives, remember," he returned as she eased the jacket from his shoulders, grinning when she dropped it uncaringly over the back of the couch.

   "As do I."

   "I'm beginning to think you designed that thing especially for getting it off me," he teased back with a quirked eyebrow. Delenn flashed him a seemingly innocent smile; he chuckled and slipped his hand under her head, lifting her briefly up to him for a quick kiss. "I know you too well."

   "Perhaps." She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck for another kiss that this time wasn't quite so brief. "But I would be surprised if that is possible."

   There not being much his passion-fogged brain could think of to say to that, he smiled and kissed her again. As replies went, it seemed to be a good one, at least in Delenn's estimation; a few moments later, albeit with a small amount of manoeuvring to get around the twinges of pain still making themselves known in his arm, her practiced hands had divested him of his shirt and were working quite admirably at his pants. It came to him that if he let her carry on that way, the situation might end up more than a little unfair - Delenn had a knack for that, if he gave her half a chance.

   Instead he pushed himself up on his good arm and sat up over her, making sure he was straddling her; looking down into her eyes then, he got a good idea why Delenn definitely preferred to be in this position and it took a few, very long moments to recall exactly why he was up here. Her soft frown brought him back to reality, her hand resting lightly on his thigh and rubbing gentle circles as she looked up into his eyes, obviously wondering what he was planning in this position. He tried to ignore, just long enough to get her out of that damned dress, just how amazingly arousing she could be when she touched him like that...

   "John..." Okay, so she didn't have to touch him to make him absolutely crazy with needing her. "What-"

   "Shh." He smiled and touched her lip with a finger, trying to quiet her; instead her hand closed around his, trying to pull him back into her arms.

   "I want you," was all she said - all she needed to say, so open and comfortable with that fact now that just the words sent a wave of blazing heat through his groin. He swallowed hard, trying to ease the sudden tightness in his throat at seeing the truth of those words mirrored perfectly in her face. It didn't work, of course: it never did, not with Delenn. His voice sounded husky as he slid his hand out of hers, and he was firmly convinced that she could see the same look in his eyes as he laid his palm gently on her cheek and smiled.

   "You think I don't know that, by now?"

   "I think you will make me wait much longer than I want to," she returned in a tone that was just an inch short of desperate. He chuckled, shaking his head then as he ran his hand down her face, easily finding the catch of her dress just under her neck.

   "That wasn't what I had in mind," he assured her with a quiet smile as his hand worked its way down, impatience making the movements even faster than usual now. "In fact..." his fingers reached her waist and he paused for a moment, grasping her hips to pull her up to him, "I was planning on something a *lot* better..."

   A soft moan escaped her parted lips as she arched her back, grinding her hips into his, and he groaned at the almost painful arousal her movements caused. "God... *Delenn*..."

   "Come... *here*." She forced herself to look up at him, her eyes dark and all but begging for him now. "I need you, John, *please*..."

   His hands eased from her hips to caress her waist then, slipping inside her dress, and the sound that emerged from her lips was a sudden growl as he moved both hands up to her shoulders and lifted her again, pushing her dress down to leave her naked under his touch. A growl came from his throat, then, and she couldn't control the answering moan of anticipation that escaped her lips as he finished what she had attempted to start, flipping off his belt and yanking down pants and boxers in one swift move to leave himself completely open to her. She reached up to him, grasping his shoulders hard and pulling his weight down on top of her, and his mouth covered hers in a bruising kiss as he slid one hand down her back and pushed her hips up again, sheathing himself completely inside her in one single, rough movement. She gasped at the force of it and he tore his mouth from hers for a moment at the sound, looking down at her in concern. "Did I-"

   "No..." She shook her head quickly, letting out another moan of pleasure as he drew back and thrust into her again. "Please... don't - don't stop..."

   Sheridan grinned, capturing her lips hungrily against his and murmuring fiercely into her mouth. "No way in Hell..."

   "Heaven," she corrected in a whisper under his mouth. He made a confused sound, not bothering with coherent words now, and she moaned loudly as he pushed back into her again. "I think... I would call this heaven..."

   Sheridan laughed, pulling his lips from hers to bury his face in her neck and whisper hoarsely in her ear. "Mmm, you got that right..." It felt like months since they'd done this, just given in completely and forgotten everything of the world outside to bury themselves in the pure pleasure of making love, without any other commitments pressing down on their shoulders. Now the only thing left in his mind was the soft heat of her body beneath him, the quiet whimpering against his throat that said she was already close, just a little while longer... He thrust harder into her in response to that soft encouragement, raising his hips to rub hard across her center with each long stroke and draw a gasp of pleasure from her throat. "Mmm... that right, love?"

   "Yes..." Her hips rose instinctively to thrust in counterpoint to his, and she all but screamed as he slipped a hand between them to rub harder, faster on her clit, feeling her start to tense around him. "Oh, Valen, *yes*..." She writhed helplessly against him, fighting for breath, gasping with pleasure at his rough, desperate touch. He was closer than she, his shoulders impossibly tense under her hands, and she could feel him gasping against her throat as he neared the edge of a pleasure so profound it almost hurt. Sweat made his skin damp, his fingers burning as they rubbed over her, harder, faster than before as he growled her name over and over, straining for release and wanting desperately to bring her with him when he came. "Delenn, god, *Delenn*, so close..."

   "I know..." Her voice was nearly a sob, her movements frenzied as he plunged into her once more, deeper than ever, and she felt him start to come, hard and hot inside her, her own efforts growing wilder against his slick fingers. "Oh Valen, please... don't stop, don't..." A sob tore from her throat, his name half-screamed as that thunderous climax only made him thrust harder into her again and she felt the release of orgasm finally, blissfully reach her. A burning wave exploded out from under his rough caress, her muscles clenching helplessly, body shaking as heat burned along every nerve and the world blanked out in an ecstasy so deep it was nearly painful.

   Sheridan collapsed on top of her then, finally letting himself relax; she could feel him trembling in her arms as his chest heaved, his whole body shining with sweat. Even the effort of holding his own weight was too much now and he shook his head lightly to try and clear it, resting his forehead briefly on her shoulder.

   "There is *definitely*..." he dragged in a short breath and tried to calm his raging pulse, "*definitely* something in the air around here..."

   Delenn laughed shakily, running her fingertips through his damp hair as she leaned back and let his comforting weight press her into the couch. "I think I would like to know what it is," she teased, nuzzling tiredly into his shoulder. Sheridan chuckled, although it came out closer to a cough as he tried to calm his ragged breathing long enough to take some of his weight from her.

   "Whatever it is, I hope it's planning on sticking around for a while. That was..." he grinned and shook his head again, feeling a little light-headed. "Heaven, huh?"

   "Always." She smiled, brushing a stray lock of hair from his damp forehead. He grunted, obviously not convinced.

   "Wasn't exactly romantic," he reminded her lightly. Delenn smiled and held him still, quieting the half-hearted protest that he'd crush her if he stayed where he was for much longer.

   "Sometimes passion can be far better than romance," she reminded him gently, nestling her face into his neck.

   "I'm gonna hurt you," he protested again, trying to wake his brain again long enough to convince her. He quirked his lips into a smile, lifting his head to look down at her. "Besides, there's a bed in the other room that's sounding pretty appealing right now." Much as his body insisted he wanted to sleep right here, he really didn't think that was the best option right now. He leaned down once more to kiss her, tenderly, before turning his head to murmur into her ear. "I love you, so much..." Delenn smiled up at him then, and with a great effort he managed to slide unceremoniously off the couch into something approaching a standing position. "Come on, hon. Bedroom."

   If they hadn't moved, Sheridan considered afterwards, he probably could have fallen asleep without any trouble at all given how exhausted his body insisted he was. Leaving the couch, though, however necessary it was becoming, was his downfall since it involved Delenn not only naked but moving, and he'd already established long before that he had no control where a naked Delenn was concerned. He tried to ignore it, the enticing way her hips swayed as she walked in front of him, the smooth, soft skin of her back that pretty much begged him to just grab her and kiss her forever... Okay, so he wasn't fooling himself. He might not be up to much else tonight after that performance, but then, that didn't mean there weren't other ways to do things. He was nothing if not resourceful, after all, especially when faced with a fully naked and softly smiling Delenn...

   She lay back on the bed at his urging, catching a glimpse of the passion still shining in his eyes for her as he followed, and she was barely able to do more than push back the bedclothes before he had her pinned against him, flashing her a grin that assured her this wasn't over just yet.

   "Slow this time," was his gentle, urgent whisper against her lips as he kissed her, tenderly now. "Just for you, love. You want that?" The flash of heat in her eyes assured him that he'd chosen right, and he smiled. "Just tell me if I miss anything..."

   He lowered his mouth to hers then, parting her lips easily with his tongue and taking her face carefully in his hands to pull her further into the deep, passionate kiss. Her hands roamed his back, gliding absently over taut muscles, and a soft purr emerged under his kisses as he broke from her lips and moved up into her hair, nuzzling lightly at her crown and gently rubbing his fingertips along the smooth ridges. She was more sensitive there than she should be, if she were fully Minbari, and he knew how to take full advantage of the fact to arouse her even more easily than he could a Human woman.

   "The best of both worlds," he murmured into her hair, the soft warmth of his breath on her crown making her skin tingle. "God, you're beautiful, Delenn..."

   She felt that way, as well, when he touched her like this; she had never understood before, how it was possible to *feel* beautiful, but the reverence in his caress left her in no doubt that she must be for him to look at her that way, to touch her and love her so tenderly. From the first time he had taken her in his arms, that feeling had come to her as naturally as her own heartbeat, and now she would never need to be without it again...

   "I love you," he whispered close to her ear, and the smile that fluttered across her lips as he looked up assured him that she'd heard. Delenn never minded hearing those words, and he certainly wasn't getting tired to saying them - especially when they made her eyes shine that way when she looked at him, as if, just for an instant, there was no one else left in her universe but the two of them and the way he felt for her. "More than anything. I mean that." The smile filled her eyes then, her fingers brushing his face as he sat up over her again, enjoying the quiet hum that came from her lips when he cupped her breasts lightly in his hands; unable to resist, he leaned down and kissed a gentle trail between them, tonguing playfully at one nipple that tightened in the cool air before sucking harder, hearing her moan softly at the sensation. "Mmm... god, you even taste amazing..." He stroked his hands down her sides, gently arching her up from the bed into his mouth as he kissed a gentle trail down over her stomach; his palm brushed roughened skin then, making him pause, and he felt a sudden wave of concern and guilt as he realised he'd all but completely forgotten that she was still healing. Faster than an ordinary Human, yes, and Franklin had just about performed miracles to get her back on her feet so soon, but still it reminded him again of just how close he'd come to losing her. Or did he remember that part all too well already, he wondered as he looked up to her, his gaze still sliding appreciatively over her smooth figure stretched out beneath him. He certainly wouldn't be surprised, from past experience, if that was the reason behind his sudden need to ravish her at every turn.

   "Is it hurting?" There was a quiet pain in her eyes when he moved back to look at her, but he knew she trusted him not to react to that alone. "I can do this any way you like," he reminded her gently when she stayed silent. He touched her cheek lightly, guiding her eyes to meet his. "If it hurts, tell me. Let me make it stop."

   She nodded then, still silent and almost imperceptible, but he was looking for the movement and smiled tenderly to reassure her that he had no plans to let a little scar ruin anything for her. He prided himself on being resourceful, after all, and he suspected he could come up with just about anything if it avoided hurting Delenn.

   "Okay. Shh," she looked about to speak as he shifted to kneel at her side and he leaned down to kiss her, quieting the protest rising to her lips. "We'll just do it a little differently, okay? Come here," he pushed a pillow back against the head of the bed and scooted backwards, reaching out to gather her into his arms again. It took a moment to settle her in place; her head rested back against his shoulder, her back pressed to his chest, and when he was sure she was as close as she could be he wrapped one arm around her waist, settling his hand securely between her legs. A soft moan escaped her lips, pressing into his warmth and seeking his caress; he smiled and kissed her lightly on the temple, pushing her hair back with his free hand to speak quietly in her ear.

   "Shh, just relax. No vigorous exercise, remember?" He grinned when she smiled at that, both of them knowing that as always, Stephen's advice had been largely ignored. "Now cross your legs."

   She did as he asked, with a little gentle help to tuck her knees beneath his, and then he tucked his feet up close to hers to enclose her completely in his embrace. His free hand sought hers then, his strong arms crossed over her stomach and holding her just tight enough to keep her from moving again. The side of her crown sat against his jaw, her head nestled comfortably in the hollow of his shoulder, and it felt wonderfully secure to be held so close to him like this.

   "Better?"

   "Mmm." She nuzzled her head against his jaw, letting her eyes slip closed as she relaxed completely into him. "I like this. Being this close..."

   "Nice, huh?" She nodded under his chin and he smiled, sliding his hand a little further beneath her. "Ready?"

   Her voice trembled slightly at that, a soft whisper of anticipation. "Yes."

   "Good." His arms tightened even closer, holding her completely still as he felt a faint tremor run through her. "Shh... I've got you, it won't hurt now." He tilted her hips very slightly forward, slipping one finger inside her, and she let out a quiet moan as he rubbed gently around her entrance. "That's good, hmm?"

   "Y-yes..." She was already trembling in his arms, glad of the strength in his embrace as a second fingertip joined the first and a gasp filled her throat as he pushed both fingers carefully into her. "Mmmm... oh, Valen..."

   "That's good," he repeated quietly in her ear. She nodded shakily, clenching her grip on his hand as those gentle fingers began to thrust slowly in and out. "That's it, love... shh, just relax and let it come..." His smile was gently suggestive as he watched her reaction to his intimate caress, lifting the hand that clasped hers to stroke her cheek lightly. "I want to see your soul, Delenn."

   "You... you are my soul... oh, *Valen*..." She sobbed suddenly as he drew his fingers out of her, beginning light, wet circles around her clitoris. Her hand found his where it nestled insistently between her legs, fingers trembling as they slid up his arm as if to pull him even closer to her. "John, please, I want to feel you..."

   "I'm here, love." His voice was close in her ear, fingers pushing into her again as he moved his thumb to massage her clit, rubbing harder now as she strained into his touch and he felt the tension mount in her trembling body.

   Her fingers wound into his hair and she lifted her head half-blindly to find his mouth with hers, moaning helplessly into a desperate kiss. "John - I-I... so close, please..."

   "Slowly," he reminded her. "Slowly, love, shh..." He eased a third finger inside her and she gasped, whimpering in her throat at the feeling of being so open to him, being touched by him, feeling him in her...

   "I love you, Delenn," he whispered then, and her world fell apart in a sudden rush of heat that spread out from his fingers, rippling through her body and drawing a choked sob from the back of her throat. She writhed helplessly against him, his arms a strong cage around her to hold in the sudden violence of the orgasm that swept over her, overwhelming her in pleasure. Sheridan carried on stroking her, one hand gently on her crown and the other with fingers still nestled deep inside her, his thumb circling lightly over her clit, making her cry out suddenly as another orgasm came hard on the fading edge of the first and she lost sense completely of everything around her.

   He held her there, wrapped in his arms until the shaking faded to the occasional soft tremor, stroking her hair and gently rocking her as she calmed and slowly, finally sank back against him. There were tears drying on her face when he looked down, and he wiped them tenderly away before kissing her lightly on the mouth.

   "Pretty good, huh?" A shaky nod answered him, her voice still lost in the intensity of sensation and her body still trembling as she pulled in soft, shallow breaths. Sheridan chuckled, carefully reaching down to uncross her legs and easing her out of his embrace, a gentle nudge guiding her back onto the bed before he arranged the pillows and drew her close again, letting her head rest on his shoulder. She was silent for a long while then; longer than she usually was, even after that kind of exertion, and when her breathing was finally calm again he frowned lightly, lifting one hand from where he lay stretched out on the pillows to smooth his palm lightly over her hair.

   "Delenn? You feeling okay?"

   She laughed at that, albeit quietly with the amount of exhaustion that had quite thoroughly taken over her mind and body, even managing to lift her head in surprise at the question.

   "I am feeling far more than 'okay'," she assured him with amusement in her voice, rubbing her hand lazily across his chest. He lifted his head from the pillow for just a moment to meet her gaze, grinning suddenly at the expressly satisfied look in her eyes.

   "Damn, I'm good."

   Delenn laughed again at that, amused by his definitely smug tone.

   "You are *very* good," she affirmed in a sleepy tone, not even bothering to hide the laughter still in her voice. Sheridan chuckled along with her.

   "You're not so bad yourself, Ambassador," he teased back. The silence that answered him was most definitely on his own side of self-satisfied, and he didn't need to look down at her to know that her smile matched his own right now. Damn, but that had been so far *beyond* 'good' - he'd known he and Delenn could do some amazing things together, but he couldn't remember the last time he'd seen her react to him like that...

   "God, I love you." He put all the energy he had left into letting her know that, nestling his fingers into her warm hair as he draped the other arm across his chest to lay his hand on her hip and tug her against him. She murmured something in Adronato then, softly slurred as she made her own attempt to snuggle closer, and he chuckled as that made his ego edge up another notch. He spoke passable Minbari now, but Delenn still never tried to hold a conversation in her native tongue unless she were *completely* beyond caring which language she happened to be speaking - something which, given her talent for composure, very rarely happened these days.

   "You probably want to repeat that," he teased lightly, massaging the back of her neck with a gentle hand to bring her back to him. "I don't think my brain's quite up to that many tenses right now."

   "Mmm..." She made a soft sound of pleasure as his fingertips found a sensitive spot at the nape of her neck, nuzzling sleepily against his chest, and he knew she hadn't really heard him. "Shanii sa ni... me'la, vi'lan..."

   Sheridan smiled at the words, withdrawing his hand to smooth her hair back into place and let her sleep. "I know, love. But you're wrong, you know." He kissed the tip of her crown, wrapping his arms tightly around her sleeping form. "It's always that beautiful with you."

 

*****

 

   Delenn Sheridan sat on a sun-warmed stone bench, her long hair whipped back by the wind as she drew her legs up and looked out over the blackness of space at the planet below. She was wrapped only in a soft blanket, but she wasn't cold; it was warm around her, and she felt safe from everything in the world now that she was finally here. She knew this place, although she had never set foot here before; she simply knew that it had always been here, awaiting her -

   A sudden jolt of pain shocked her awake into the silent darkness of John's quarters, and with the dream still fresh in her thoughts it took her a moment to mentally correct that label. She was in *their* quarters, *their* bedroom...

   John, however, was not.

   Another sharp pain shot through her back, waking her completely, and she cried out softly at the unexpected shock. She blinked furiously, trying to adjust her eyes to the total darkness; the room seemed wrong somehow when she did manage to see, and it took the effort of sitting up to realise that she was on the wrong side of the bed. John was no longer there and she had rolled over, seeking his presence in her sleep and unconsciously wrenching the injury that was obviously still trying to heal. The muscles continued to protest as she slipped out of bed, her fingers searching out the familiar texture of the soft silken robe she kept here - one of John's many gifts to her, although she suspected it had a little more to do with his wanting to see her in it than anything else. There was something wonderfully intimate about the gesture, she admitted, shivering slightly as she slipped the cool fabric over her shoulders; just as there had been in her giving him the Minbari robe he usually wore now - a robe which was now missing from the bedroom chair, she noticed then as her gaze flickered that way in the darkness. The pain seemed to be fading now, thank Valen, but her concern mounted as she edged toward the closed bedroom doors, the memory of being alone in his quarters too recent to rest easily without him.

   The door slid open silently, much as they had probably closed in the same manner, and she stepped out into a darkened living room with a soft frown of confusion when it seemed to be empty. He would not leave in the middle of the night without waking her, she was almost sure of that - not when he knew how easily she awoke when he was gone...

   "Delenn?"

   She turned at the sound of his voice behind her, just a little too fast for her abused muscles to allow, and she was grateful when he reached out to pull her quickly into his arms. Even in the darkness she could make out the warmth in his eyes, a soft smile rising to her lips then as he looked down at her in concern.

   "What are you doing up? It's the middle of the night..."

   "I should ask the same of you," she reminded him in answer. He sighed, scraping a hand through his mussed hair.

   "I had a call, something about... the Narns, or something. Nothing important." He flashed an apologetic smile. "I was hoping I wouldn't wake you."

   "You should know what will happen if you leave," she teased to remind him. Sheridan rolled his eyes, but she let it pass; he always did the same, after all, on the rare occasions that she had left his quarters in the dead of night, so he could hardly fault her for the instinct that told her when he was no longer at her side.

   "Well..." He leaned back against the doorframe, drawing her closer, and he sounded a little bemused. "Seeing that I'm not planning on leaving you *ever* again, at least in this lifetime, why don't we see what we can do to forget that habit?" Delenn smiled, and he returned it warmly as he led her back into the bedroom and carefully drew the doors closed again behind them.

   "There is no one to disturb us," she reminded him with a touch of amusement.

   "Around here, you never know." He chuckled at the look she threw him, reaching out to catch her hand in his and lead her back to the bed. "Now, where were we precisely?"

   She smiled as his hands found the loosely tied belt of her robe, practiced fingers only needing a moment before the smooth silk glided easily from her shoulders and he pulled her naked body back against him to let her return the favor. The bedclothes were still thrown back from her waking, and with his fingers firmly entwined with hers she was eager enough to go back to them - if there was one thing Sheridan knew how to do even in his sleep, he reminded himself dryly, it was take Delenn to bed.

   The darkness was silent again for a long while after she nestled up to him, although neither of them slept; he had no idea why, since he knew for a fact that they were both tired enough to stay here for days on end if they got the chance, but his mind seemed determined to keep him awake right now and from the slightly thoughtful look in her eyes, he could tell Delenn was having the same problem.

   "Delenn?"

   She hummed absently, obviously lost in thought; he lifted his head to look at her and then sat up slightly, resting his head on one palm. "What would you have said, for the ceremony?"

   She sighed quietly, and he got the impression that weirdly, the same thought had been on her mind. "I don't know."

   He looked a little surprised. "You must have had something in mind. I mean, I know it's technically over, but if you still wanted to..."

   She let the offer hang between them for a moment, silently reaching out to touch his chest; her hand rested lightly over his heart, and she didn't need to speak for him to know.

   "There is something, isn't there?" He ignored the exhaustion still tugging at his muscles to roll onto his side, pushing her hair back with his free hand. "You can tell me, Delenn. There's no need to hide." He knew the words were there, waiting to be said, waiting only to be coaxed out into the open now. "Whatever it is... you can tell me anything, you know that."

   "I know." She looked down at her hand on his chest, just for a moment, before he covered it firmly with his own.

   "Tell me, Delenn." He let go her hand for a moment to tilt her gaze up to his, his voice gentle but sincere. "Please. It can't be that bad, surely?"

   "I..." She paused for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts, and he frowned for an instant as a deep, silent pain flickered over her features. As quickly as it came it was gone, pushed back into her mind, and he steadied himself for whatever it was that she wanted to say that might hurt that badly.

   "I was in love with someone else. Before you."

   Sheridan blinked, surprised - shocked, even, given the kinds of things he'd been starting to expect. "Is that all?" She nodded slowly, her eyes carefully lowered; he touched her chin and tilted her head up, bringing her gaze to meet his. "God, Delenn, you nearly scared the hell out of me!" He chuckled then, sounding relieved and gently stroking her hair to reassure her. "I'm hardly in a position to be angry, Delenn," he reminded her gently. "It happens in life; sometimes it just takes us a while to find the one, that's all. Hmm?" She nodded quietly, but that guilty look was still there behind her eyes. "It really isn't all that bad a secret," he assured her. "I've heard much worse in my time, believe me."

   "Perhaps." The smile on her lips didn't touch her eyes, though, and the silence between them was uncomfortable for a moment. He needed to fill it, much as he didn't want to ask the other question, and his voice held more than a note of trepidation when he managed to get the words out.

   "And what would you have... given up?" To his surprise she smiled up at him then, and an odd mix of sadness and long-sought contentment shone in her expression.

   "I performed that part of the ceremony a long time ago." She touched the silver ring on her finger absently, the metal slightly cool against her skin. "I have been Minbari most of my life, and even after my change I tried to hold onto that... to be what I thought I should still be, what I imagined was required of me. I have never been truly unhappy with this body," she assured him with a gentle smile, rubbing her hand absently across his chest when he seemed about to speak. "Or with what we have together, physically or otherwise. But I had never faced the idea that I might not be Minbari... inside, completely. Or at all," she admitted reluctantly after a short pause. "The physical differences are little more than reminders, now. My body is Human, and my emotions are Human..." She looked at him meaningfully, the sadness gone completely from her smile then. "And now my life will be Human."

   He didn't know what to make of that. She didn't sound worried: nothing of the trepidation he'd felt during the ceremony revealed itself in her voice, but he didn't know how she could be truly happy with this. To lose everything she had been, everything she had had just for a life with him? "Delenn, I-"

   "I want it this way." She saw his hesitation, the reluctance and fear in his eyes that worried he had done the wrong thing in proposing. "I will always have Minbar in my heart, John, but you know it can never be home for me again. Too much has happened... too many things have changed, by my will or that of others it doesn't matter now. I can be Human now better than I can be Minbari, and I know I will be happier this way. This was my choice as much as yours," she reminded him firmly, reaching across to thread her fingers tightly between his. "It is what I was meant to be, John, and you will not change it by regretting your part." Her voice lowered, and it was only then that he heard any hint of pain seep into those soft, half-choked words. "Do you regret being a part of my life?"

   "Oh, hey... shh..." His reaction to that was instant, pressing her palm to his lips as he rolled onto his side to pull her closer. "No, no, never..." He stroked her hair tenderly, his voice tight as he met her eyes. "Not that. You know I couldn't live without you, Delenn."

   "And I do not want to live without you." Her words were whispered, but he heard them clearly as she reached out to caress his cheek, her quiet tone hiding tears in the darkness. "No matter what else changes."

   "I know." He forced a smile onto his lips and kissed her softly on the forehead, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping his warmth around her. "I know, honey. You won't have to, I promise." He kissed her crown at her temple, his voice gentle as he settled his cheek against her hair. "I can't imagine my world without you now, you know that?"

   Delenn smiled, feeling the gentle hug that emphasised the deep sincerity in those words. *'Decades,'* he'd said... but she could have spent lifetimes in his arms and not wanted for anything. "I know." She wasn't sure if he had truly intended her to answer, but she needed him to know that she understood, that she felt the same way. "We should sleep now," she reminded him quietly, her voice slightly teasing. Sheridan lifted his head a touch, looking briefly into her eyes, and then chuckled wryly.

   "So much for a day off, huh?"

   "There will be others," she assured him lightly, nestling more comfortably against his chest. Sheridan snorted.

   "Not for a while, I'll bet."

   "It was hardly wasted," she reminded him with some amusement. She sounded tired, and he grinned.

   "No, it definitely wasn't *that*..."

[END]

 

*****

 

 

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