LIGHT ON A DARK NIGHT

By Leyenn

 

 

 

Okay, I admit it. This is becoming a habit. But three is sacred, after all, and I like the way Sheridan and Delenn are going in this AU. This is the result of the only throwaway line worth bothering with from 'Point Of No Return', and it's set just after the end of said ep. Certainly before 'Severed Dreams'. I should warn you, although you may know by now, that I am prone to smushiness. I think although I haven't read any of my own stuff for a while that this is about as syrupy as I've ever been. Please bear with me and suspend your disbelief.

 

 

 

 

*****

Delenn frowned at the report in her hand, failing miserably with a sigh to understand how anyone could think such a preposterous proposal sensible enough to print on paper. She had been at this for over three hours, struggling to catch up with the mass of paperwork Lennier had saved for her return from Minbar, and was making very little headway - and John was kissing her, which always made it hard to concentrate.

   "John," she said reprovingly. He chuckled, his hand cupping her breast through her robes as he nibbled at her neck. She struggled to hide a smile, lightly brushing at his wandering hands. "John, I need to finish this."

   "It's waited this long." He shrugged and expertly loosened her collar, slipping his hand inside. His voice was muffled against her neck as he worked his way under her hair. "It won't care if you're a bit... distracted, for a while."

   "*I* will mind," she retorted primly, tilting her head slightly as his kisses travelled down her throat. "And so will you, when I am not ready for the Council meeting tomorrow."

   "That's tomorrow." He opened her robe casually, a warm hand sliding beneath the material to curve under her breast. There was a sensitive spot just... mm, *there*, and she squirmed involuntarily as he stroked a feather-light fingertip across it. "This is now. It can wait a few more hours..."

   She laughed. "*Hours?*"

   He frowned in mock hurt. "There are rules about criticising a man in bed, you know."

   Delenn's eyes sparkled. "But we are not in bed yet."

   "Yet." He smiled and pulled the papers from her hands, ignoring her protestations. "I can go over this with you later. Right now there are better ways to pass the time."

   "That is hardly difficult," she reminded him with a grim glance at the piles of work still awaiting her attention. He gave her a look, held it: after a moment she sighed and smiled ruefully. "It will be your fault if I am not properly prepared tomorrow," she warned him. He shrugged nonchalantly and grinned, holding out his hand to her as he all but jumped up from the couch.

   "I think I can handle the guilt. Coming?"

   She smiled coyly, placing her hand in his: and with a quick tug, pulled him back down on top of her. She was stronger than most people would have thought, looking at her; even knowing that, he wasn't expecting the movement and fell off-balance, only just managing to keep himself from crushing her into the couch under his weight. Delenn smiled innocently up at him: taking advantage of his surprise she half-stood to slide out from the couch, and pushed him smoothly back onto the cushions. She swung easily across him with a mischievous smile, straddling his legs as he sat back and relaxed under her touch. Sheridan raised his eyebrows, pleasantly surprised, his voice teasing at her playful behaviour. "One day, Ambassador, you're going to get me into serious trouble."

   Delenn laughed, running her fingers through his hair. "You would not have me any other way."

   His answer was a playful growl as he pulled her in for a crushing kiss. "Not a chance in hell." His mouth claimed hers, hungrily, making sure she understood how much he'd missed her while she was gone. She'd missed him too, it seemed; her own kiss equally as fierce as she pressed into his arms and wound hers around his neck. Her lips parted eagerly, tongue twining lightly with his; running the tip across his upper lip and smiling against his mouth as he slid his hands into her hair, pulling her closer in response to the teasing.

   "Miss me?" he murmured in amusement. Delenn smiled, humming into his mouth and biting impishly at his tongue. He chuckled inwardly at her playfulness, knowing full well how frustrating the past week and a half had been and how relieving it was to finally get some time together. Even when they were both on station, of course, there were no guarantees they would be able to grab even a few hours alone; but he could at least see her on a professional level, perhaps manage to sneak in an extra meeting when no one would become suspicious. The last week had been so chaotic he doubted he would have had time for that, but at least she would have been there. They had been careful to keep their relationship secret, but it still wasn't an uncommon sight now to see them walking together, talking and if they were lucky grabbing a quick lunch before rushing back to their respective positions. To have her gone for an entire week and longer had been maddening as Ivanova would probably testify, he thought wryly. It was as well Delenn was only called away occasionally, or his matching mood swings would soon give their game away.

   Except that this really was more than a game, he reminded himself as he paused in kissing her eager, searching mouth to grab a lungful of air. He loved her, with every somewhat gasping breath in his body, and even when she didn't tell him at every opportunity her eyes reflected those same emotions. It did hurt, especially after all this time, that they still needed to keep such an intense attachment secret... but, he reminded himself as Delenn leaned forward and kissed him passionately again, it was even more intense knowing they were the only ones who shared it. Would that change if *when* - they allowed others to know?

   Then Delenn leant back in his arms, smiling down into his eyes; she stroked her fingers lovingly through his hair, and he forgot even the question of it. "I missed you," he told her quietly. Somehow that sounded even fiercer, conveying even more than an entire night of words could otherwise have done. How he'd missed having her to talk to, to share those concerns he couldn't show anyone else: missed having her support beside him, and her strength there with him; missed passing her in the corridor in the morning and holding her at night...

   "As much as I you," she returned equally with a sympathetic smile. "And so much has happened since I went away..."

   "That's what happens when you leave me unsupervised," he teased dryly. She smiled softly, stroking his face. His skin was slightly rough: he hadn't shaved since that morning, perhaps even the evening before.

   "Something is worrying you. Tell me." She kept her voice light, knowing how to coax him out of the protective walls he built during the day and reveal those concerns he kept hidden from everyone else. John did not respond well to pressure: he was trained to hide his problems, and it took patience and love to uncover his true feelings.

   Tonight, however, was easier than most. He sighed heavily, not even trying to hide it. "Delenn, everything's worrying me." He sounded tired; she stroked her fingers lightly over his face, soothing the frustration there. "So much is happening, like you said - I can hardly keep it all straight in my head any more. Not to mention I haven't seen you all week, and I've had maybe five hours' sleep in the past three days." He winced ruefully, his hands restless on her back. "This place is going to hell, Delenn. I'm not sure how much longer I can hold it together."

   "The station, or yourself?" She smiled at his expression, knowing he found her intuition slightly disconcerting when she saw through him so easily. "I know you, John. You bear so much on your shoulders, afraid to let anyone help you for fear of risking them as well - but you cannot hope to bear such responsibility alone." Her touch was gentle, reassuring and reaffirming her words as she traced the contours of his face. "The people here trust you, John, in a way that you do not even trust yourself. They will follow you because they have faith in you and what you can do, to make the right choices, but none of them are blind. They see as well as you do what is happening around us, and they understand what is coming. As I understand." She kissed him tenderly, an almost chaste gesture of reassurance, and smiled dryly. "Besides, Ivanova would not hesitate to inform you if the choices you make become the wrong ones."

   Despite himself, he had to smile at her words. "Yeah, I guess she would at that." He chuckled for a moment: holding her gaze, he sighed ruefully, almost appealing to her. "It's just-"

   "I know. There is nothing to say I cannot see in your face." She laughed softly at his somewhat disgruntled expression. "Does it worry you that I know you so well, my *Drala'nai*?"

   "No." He smiled and trailed an absent finger along the top of her crest; more thoughtful than deliberately arousing but she smiled nonetheless, tilting her head slightly to guide his caress. Sheridan smiled, recognising that contented look on her face; he slipped his hand behind her head and pulled her gently to him, kissing her forehead with a tired smile. "You are amazing, you know that?"

   Her eyes were sparkling. "I think it would be a little improper for me to answer that."

   "You, improper? Never."

   She smiled in amusement and traced his lips idly with a fingertip. "Immodest, then."

   "Well..." He grinned and slid his arms around her waist, drawing her against his chest. "Never let it be said I accused the Minbari Ambassador of immodesty. Not that it might not be true, though." His fingers were back to teasing her crown, and this time it was intentionally sexual. Delenn smiled, turning her head into his touch, looking exceedingly unruffled by the claim. It was easy to admit that modesty, in certain situations, was not one of her more well-developed qualities.

   "Do you wish me to show you how... immodest... I can be?"

   He smiled, pretending to consider the idea; studying her face teasingly, he saw her concern for him still hidden in her eyes and frowned slightly. "Look, Delenn, maybe..."

   "John." She sounded slightly reproving. "You want this. You need to forget for a while, and there is no better way that I can think of." Her eyes glittered. "Quite apart from the fact that I have dreamt of you every night since I left."

   "Oh?" He grinned, intrigued. If it hadn't been for her inescapable Minbari heritage, he would probably have suspected her of lying just to distract him. "What kind of dreams?"

   Delenn mirrored his playfully thoughtful expression of a moment before. "I am not sure I should tell you such things."

   He scowled half-seriously. "I hope you don't tell anyone *else*."

   She laughed quietly, touched his lips teasingly with a finger. "I would not have the words. Although you have taught me a lot," she assured him with a mischievous smile. John delighted in telling her in detail, most of the time exactly what he felt like doing to her whenever he was bored and knew she would be as well. Usually she found a note hidden discreetly in a pile of paperwork, hand-addressed to her which was a blessing at least, knowing how such a thing would seem to Lennier or anyone else happening to clear some of her enormous workload. John, although he tried his hardest not to be crude, could be exceedingly and arousingly graphic when his mind wandered toward thoughts of her, and some of the things he imagined would not fit well with a Minbari mindset.

   "I can teach you some more," he offered lightly with a suggestively raised eyebrow, sliding his hand around her head to rub one finger along the single ridge at the back of her crest.

   "I can manage without words," Delenn assured him with a sultry smile as her fingers worked on his collar.

   "Talking can be good, though," he reminded her. She glanced up at him; with sparkling eyes, she leaned forward and brushed her lips against his.

   "There are better things..." As her tongue flickered over his lips, teasing him into kissing her. He chuckled, wrapping his hand behind her head and pulling her the rest of the way into his arms. His shirt was open now; Delenn was extremely practised at undressing him whatever their position, and it didn't take her long to strip him of it and slide her hands down to his belt.

   "Mm." He shifted his hips under hers, briefly breaking the deepening kiss. "Sure you don't want to-"

   "This is fine," she assured him. He shook his head playfully at her.

   "You can never do anything the easy way, can you?"

   "Life is never easy," she retorted with a distracted smile as her hands slipped inside his pants, feeling him rising to her attentions. "And at least part of you is not complaining." One hand pushed past the waistband of his shorts, and his eyes widened for a moment as she wrapped her hand firmly around him. She massaged slowly, feeling him harden in her hand, and he saw a wicked smile in her eyes as her control over him rose considerably.

   "Oh, no complaints. No, not from me. No sir."

   "No *ma'am*," she corrected evenly. He chuckled.

   "There is no way I'm ever calling you that."

   "'No, Satai', then." Her free hand joined in the fun, cupping and fondling his testicles, and a quiet moan escaped his throat.

   "How about... yes, Satai..."

   Delenn smiled impishly. "Even better." Rewarding fingers stroked his shaft, not needing to search to find that place just under the head that made his hips jerk up into her hands. She took advantage of the instinctive movement to let him go, ignoring his irritated growl.

   "Don't be impatient," she chided with a quiet laugh. "There is only so much I can do at once, after all."

   "It's not the doing that bothers me... it's the stopping."

   She smiled, placating him with a lingering kiss as lithe hands grasped the now-open waistband of his pants. He felt cool air on his hardened penis, then the soft warmth of silk as Delenn leaned against him.

   "Better?" Her voice was as teasing as her touch or rather the lack of it, the only caress on his skin that of softly rustling silk.

   "Take that dress off," he growled half-playfully. Delenn gave him a deceptively cool glance, sitting back to sweep her gaze over his body.

   "Are you willing to wait that long?" A playfully innocent fingertip dipped into the wetness beginning to pool at the tip of his erection, swirling thoughtfully. He hummed roughly in his throat, flashing her an impatient glare.

   "Delenn, this is-"

   "What you wanted," she cut in with a look that dared him to lie to her. "Isn't it?" Her wet fingertip trailed under his shaft, and he swallowed as she put her other hand to the nape of his neck, her fingers teasing his hair.

   "I want you," he assured her honestly. Delenn smiled, delicate kisses brushing his face as she worked her way lazily to his mouth.

   "This is me, John."

   He had to laugh, even knowing it was the truth. "I doubt Lennier would say that."

   "Lennier is not here," she reminded him between lazy, open-mouthed kisses. He chuckled into her mouth, the warm sound vibrating in her throat.

   "And you have no *idea* how glad I am."

   "Very, it appears," she teased back, rubbing her fingers along the underside of his penis with a smile as she drew out a pleased moan that rumbled in his chest. She slid down slightly to kiss him there, feeling his slightly rapid breathing catch as she descended on his nipple. Her mouth was warm and wet, her tongue flicking over the tip as she tugged lightly with her teeth. Sheridan hummed softly, closing his hands on her waist and searching for the fastening of her belt. It came away easily, his movements practised if a little distracted, and Delenn paused in her trail across his chest to shrug her outer robe onto the floor. Then she was teasing his other nipple, licking and gently biting, and the memory of how to remove her simple robe momentarily fled his mind. He was just chasing it down, his hands searching on her collar, when there was a wicked glint of warning in her eyes and she disappeared from his view.

   "Oh *God*..." Surprise heightened his arousal considerably, not expecting her sudden, single-minded dive for his straining erection. Her mouth closed over the head, tongue dipping into the hole at the tip, feeling moisture escape before swirling around him, sliding over that exquisite spot that felt as if he could come right there, right now. "Mmmmmm, Delenn..."

   She hummed softly, laughing: the sensation vibrated amazingly and he arched his hips, trying not to thrust madly into her mouth and holding back by only a *very* thin thread. Where Delenn had learnt this he had *no* idea, but oh God it didn't matter, she was good. Too good, as she sucked and licked and-

   "Oh God, *Delenn*..." Her name disappeared in a half-coherent mumble as she brushed the wet, straining head with her teeth, nipping ever so gently at the tip. He gave up the pretence of restraint then, pushing into her mouth and groaning as she pulled back with a slight frown. He was profoundly grateful when she took over control then; strong hands holding him down as he writhed under her touch, desperate to be in her mouth again. "Please, Delenn..." God, she could be torture when she wanted to be, and he knew when she finally let him come this would be incredible. "I want you," he hissed as she took him in her mouth again, sucking on him, humming around his sensitive head as he trembled under her, fighting to come and knowing she would make him wait.

   "Hush." The word was a command, nothing less, and he found that forceful side of her maddeningly arousing. She turned her head, working her way down the length of him with tiny licks and kisses that drove him completely crazy, losing all power of thought as an intense orgasm welled up inside him.

   "Delenn, I'm not... oh God please..." Her mouth closed lightly around one testicle, her tongue lightly cradling the sac as she sucked gently, moving one hand from holding him down to work up and down his penis. "I want you, I want you, I ohhhh *shit*-" He lost his breath as her other hand joined in the intense massage, knowing he wasn't holding out any longer. He growled in his throat, thrusting violently under her hand: Delenn lifted her head and took him firmly in her mouth, sucking hard, and he bucked fiercely as she gripped him lightly with her teeth.

   "Ohhh, good God *Delennn*-" His breath caught as he felt her swallow, not phased in the least as he thrust into her mouth and came finally, impossibly against the back of her throat. His head fell back, his body shuddering as she continued to coax him: sucking slowly, firmly, forcefully on his pulsing erection. He came for what seemed like hours, all thought obscured by the intense ecstasy of her mouth around him, surrounding almost the entire length of him, her fingers rubbing his perineum and teasingly fondling his testicles. It felt as if she were trying to swallow him whole, his entire body engulfed in the incredible feeling of her warm, wet gift to him.

   He was shaking when he opened his eyes, vaguely aware of movement and then the soft brush of silk on his damp skin. Focussing was more difficult: breathing took most of his concentration, and he couldn't seem to lift his head more than three inches from the back of the couch.

   Soft hands slid up his chest to his shoulders, and he blinked as Delenn smiled down at him. He swallowed, trying to even his breathing out long enough to talk.

   "How..." He laid a trembling finger on her reddened lips, amazed. "How the hell..."

   Delenn smiled, looking somewhat pleased with herself, her tone innocent. "You told me most Human women do that."

   Sheridan raised his eyebrows with a cough to cover his surprise. "Um, Delenn?" He shook his head slowly, still amazed by what appeared to be yet another natural talent he hadn't discovered in her. "I don't know where you've been studying again, but there aren't many Human women who can do that to a guy."

   "Oh?" A small trickle of uncertainty joined the pleasure in her voice. "But you enjoyed it, did you not?"

   "Hell yeah!" He laughed, surprised that she might think otherwise from his intense reactions. "You are the most..." He shook his head helplessly, gently tracing her lips with his finger, unable to find a word that described her.

   "That good?" Her eyes sparkled, looking a little self-satisfied not that she didn't have the right, after what she'd done to him.

   "*Better,*" he assured her firmly. "That was..." He shook his head again. "Incredible. Unbelievable." A curious frown touched his features. "How did you do that?"

   "What?" She sounded playful, and it took him a moment to realise she really didn't know. He raised his eyebrows, astonished, trying to explain without sounding as if she'd done something wrong.

   "Well, I mean for one, most women don't like to swallow when they do that. I'm told it's not the best taste in the world." With a thoughtful smile, he slid his hand onto her face and leaned forward to kiss her, sliding his tongue between her lips. Delenn always tasted slightly sweet, almost fruity, but this time there was a hint of something slightly thick and bitter. "Mm." He pulled back and shrugged, making a pensive face. "You taste better, it has to be said."

   Delenn smiled. "I will not die from it," she assured him. "I have tasted worse."

   He raised a hand. "Let's not, okay? But thank you," he added quietly. Delenn frowned, curious.

   "You do not need to thank me. I enjoy pleasing you," she assured him in a tempting voice. He grinned.

   "I've never doubted that, but you don't have to do anything that isn't comfortable." When she still looked at him curiously, he couldn't help a hint of bewilderment. "Was that easy for you?"

   Delenn sat back, playfully impatient. "John, you are not making any sense."

   He blinked, realising she was obviously right and trying to explain. "Um well, you were right that a lot of women do that, but..." He shrugged. "There aren't many who can take having a guy halfway down their throat like that."

   "It is quite simple, with proper meditation." Her eyes shone with easy amusement. "Did you think you had hurt me?"

   "I'd be halfway across the room with a broken nose if I'd done that." He grinned and shrugged. "It's just that Human women tend to find it hard to handle. I didn't think about you being any different."

   "I am *very* different," Delenn reminded him with laughter in her voice. He grinned.

   "So I noticed." He smiled, his eyes shining. "And very sexy, even if I'm more than a little biased right now."

   She looked at him in surprise: after a moment, it faded to a pleased amusement and she smiled. "Do you know, I think that is the first time you have said that about me?"

   "Not the first time I've thought it," he promised evenly, tenderly stroking her cheek. "You are, you know. Very." He flashed a grin. "Sexy as all hell, in fact, although I know Minbari don't notice it all that much."

   "Not in quite the same way," she admitted with a smile, teasingly running one finger down his cheek. "But I am not completely Minbari, John, and you know it."

   "Don't I." He chuckled, rubbing his fingertips lightly over her temple, where her fluted crest melded into smooth skin. A Minbari bonecrest wasn't usually sensitive, except for the central root at the back of the neck, but Delenn's was thinner, more delicate and somewhat... different. He smiled as she pressed her head into his hand, sliding his fingers through her hair to follow the line of her crest; her eyes closed for a moment, humming softly in response to his caress. As much as he often regretted having to hide their intimacy, he found it deeply satisfying that no one else had ever seen that beautiful expression on her features. No one else knew this side of her; the easy relaxation that came with her implicit trust and enjoyment of their closeness, with so freely displaying the affection between them. She could be relaxed with others, of course: but nothing else brought that total contentment that filled her expression now. No one else could do this to her but him.

   "You look beautiful," he told her softly. She opened her eyes, still guiding his gentle caress with a graceful dip of her head as she smiled wordlessly at him. He smiled back, lit up by that easy expression. "Even better..." He didn't have to search to find where she was most sensitive, leaning forward to kiss her as his fingers slowly explored the back of her crown. The kiss was soft and slow, and she purred quietly in her throat in approval of his attentions. He opened his eyes to watch her expression, pulling back with a quick, soft kiss to smile enquiringly. "Like that?"

   "Yes." There was never anything shy about Delenn, he'd noticed with great delight - particularly after over a week apart. "Mmm... yes, there..."

   "Your wish is my command, Satai," he teased with a smile. Delenn laughed softly, shifting around to sit across his lap and settling her head onto his shoulder, his exploring fingers still entwined in her hair.

   "You realise that I am not Satai any more," she reminded him quietly. He looked down at her, momentarily serious.

   "You'll always be Satai, Delenn, even when they've all forgotten what the hell it means." He saw the grateful look on her face and smiled warmly. "You're Satai to me. That's what matters."

   "My *Drala'nai*," she returned in a gentle voice. He smiled, lifting his other hand to hold her to him. He'd almost forgotten, hearing it only from her lips, the true meaning of her strange endearment; a reminder of how she saw him, just as he saw the strength and brilliance of a Satai in her even so long after she had been stripped of the title.

   "Satai and Starkiller." He had to laugh at the apparent absurdity of it, grinning down at her. "We're crazy, you realise that."

   "Perhaps." She smiled and pulled his head down. "For each other."

   "Mmm..." Her tongue slipped between his lips, probing lightly, and he was glad as she nipped teasingly at his tongue that he had not known of her privileged position until after they had begun seeing each other. Somehow, he imagined having enormous difficulties matching this passionate, intense woman in his arms to the aloof, mysterious and somewhat arrogant image of a Minbari Grey Councillor. Not that Delenn couldn't be mysterious, or aloof for that matter. For someone who prided herself on upholding the rules of her heritage, she was *very* good at bending the truth. Luckily she had never had to lie directly to hide her attachment to him so far and he didn't want to think about what they would do if it came to that. Despite his teasing, the sentiment behind his words had been true: to anyone on the outside their relationship would be ludicrous at best, galling and repulsive at worst. He refused to think now about how those Nightwatch bigots would take the news that the man they had suspected of sedition was actually and truthfully deeply involved with an alien Ambassador.

   Delenn drew back out of his arms to look up at him, feeling the tension in his embrace with a concerned frown. "John? What is it?"

   "Just thinking." He smiled apologetically. "Sorry."

   "There is nothing wrong with thinking," she reminded him, her tone leaving no doubt as to what type of thoughts she was referring to. She smiled ruefully at his hesitant expression. "But you are not thinking. You are worrying, and I will not have it."

   Sheridan stared at her. "I beg your pardon?!"

   "I said, I will not have it. Not tonight."

   "We're not married yet, you know," he said in a slightly put-out tone. Delenn laughed softly, sounding deeply amused.

   "Do not start worrying about that as well." She ran a gentle hand through his hair, wanting to calm him. "There is nothing you can do to change things, John. There will always be those who cannot tolerate what we have, of your people and mine. Perhaps in time we will change their opinions: perhaps not. But I will love you no matter what anyone thinks of us, and I know you will always love me. Let that be enough." Her smile was slightly pleading. "At least for tonight?"

   He looked at her for a moment: unable to resist her gaze, he sighed ruefully and smiled, a little contritely. "Okay. I'm sorry."

   "Don't be." She reached up and kissed him affectionately, brushing her fingers through his soft hair. "You only worry because you care so much, John. I know that."

   "Am I always this transparent to you?" He sounded somewhat bemused. Delenn flashed him a teasing smile.

   "Always."

   He groaned playfully, glad she had drawn him out of what threatened to become a deep depression. "I'm doomed."

   Delenn smiled in amusement. "I will keep you safe, John, do not worry."

   "You'll probably be in a better position to do that than me, pretty soon," he said quietly. She smiled comfortingly, openly sympathetic for the confrontation they both knew was sneaking up all too quickly. It took its toll on him, and he knew she noticed; it was useless trying to hide from her. "I'm worried, Delenn. I can't pretend I'm not. What's going on back home right now..." He shook his head helplessly. "Half of me wants to just forget it all, and half of me wants to get on the next ship to Earth and beat the shit out of Clarke personally. And then there's my family... and you." His eyes clouded uneasily with a heavy sigh. "Most days I feel like I'm being torn in half with this."

   "I know." Her arms wrapped around him, comfortingly strong; he held onto her, needing the warmth she gave him.

   "I don't know what I'd do without you." His voice was quiet, and profoundly grateful. "I missed having you here. I turned around to call you so many times, and I just forgot, for a minute, that you weren't there. I didn't realise how much I just need to know... that you're with me, I guess. No matter what else is going to hell right now."

   "I had to go, John," she chided gently. He nodded.

   "I know. It's not that, really. I don't expect you to give up your work just because I get a little cranky when you're not around." He chuckled at her arch expression. "Okay, a *lot* cranky. But I can handle it."

   "Can your staff?" she teased. He scowled mock-seriously.

   "I cover it as best I can, hon. No one's supposed to know how I feel about you, remember?" He grinned to lighten the reminder. "Except you, of course."

   Delenn smiled warmly, drawing back to look down at him with a speculative expression. "Then perhaps, as I seem to have your sole attention at the moment, you could... remind me a little."

   His grin widened, and he leaned forward for a kiss. "With pleasure, Satai." His hand wound into her hair; fingers rubbing her crest as she pressed her mouth passionately to his. The kiss was slow and deep, in a way that should they be in a position to see it anyone dealing with the two of them on a daily basis would have been convinced their last meal had been spiked with something vastly hallucinogenic. Delenn melted into him eagerly, returning his slow, erotic explorations with equal if not more passion as her fingers slid lazily into his hair. He chuckled into her open mouth, never surprised by her enthusiasm now: Minbari as she was, Delenn definitely had a Human side and after spending over a week solely among her own people, that Humanity was obviously ready for some freedom again. Well, he could certainly oblige that, and he had no qualms about doing so whatsoever. He'd missed her as well - *especially* when she did *that*, teasing fingertips playing over the nape of his neck, making his skin tingle as her tongue traced intricate patterns over his. He hummed quietly, guiding her lower lip into his mouth and kneading gently with his teeth; Delenn made a soft, pleased sound in the back of her throat, running the tip of her tongue delicately over his lips. When and only when - it became clear there was no air left in either of their lungs, Sheridan drew back and gave her a leisurely smile. "Remember now?"

   Delenn smiled languidly back at him. "I am starting to recall, yes."

   "Hmm..." He chuckled, replying with another slow, soft kiss. "Let me see what else I can do to jog your memory." His hand slid under her open collar, stroking over soft skin. He always found it amazing that apart from that on her head, Delenn had no hair at all anywhere on her body: amazing and wonderfully unique, making her that much more sensitive to what his caresses could do to her. She hummed quietly, the sound emerging into a moan as he pushed her robe down and cupped her exposed breast firmly in his hand. Her nipples darkened in the cooler air, tightening further as he pushed the silk completely from her upper body and teased them lightly with his fingers. "How's that?"

   She laughed softly, arching her back into his hands. "Mmm... I don't think it works that way." Her hands closed over his, approving his gentle teasing. "My memory seems to be a little... fuzzy..."

   "I'm sure you can live with it." He smiled, lowering his head to trail kisses between her breasts. "I'll try and come up with the words later, if you really want to know."

   "It will come back to me," Delenn assured him. "But you are, of course, welcome to try for as long as you are capable of speech."

   His eyebrows shot up. "Is that a challenge, Ambassador?"

   "A promise," she returned with perfect seriousness and just the hint of the smile that sparkled in her eyes. Sheridan returned the heated look for just a moment, before continuing his soft, slow explorations of her skin.

   "Mmm... more like a statement of fact, where you're concerned."

   "Are you saying... that I leave you speechless?" There was amusement mixed with the pleasure in her tone as he wrapped his lips around her tight nipple. "Oh, yes, John..."

   "Did I get that right?"

   An almost-purr filled her throat, humming under his touch. "*Exactly* right," she assured him firmly, pushing her breast into his mouth again. He chuckled, enjoying the moan that rolled from her throat at that sensation on her skin, tugging her nipple gently with his teeth. Delenn arched her back, moaning quietly with pleasure. "Ohhh, yes, *exactly*..."

   "Okay..." A gentle hand slid down her back, pushing down her dress even further, following the sensitive blue streak along the hollow of her back. "How's that?"

   "Oh..." She gasped softly as he rubbed skilfully at the delicate pigment to the base of her spine. "Yes..."

   "Glad to hear it," he murmured as he moved up to nibble lightly on her neck. "Anything else I can do for you?"

   "Mmm..." A hand appeared in his, guiding toward the remaining fastenings of her dress, and he obediently removed the garment to push backward and kick onto the floor. He wondered if the Minbari knew how brilliant they were to have invented front-fastening robes. Probably not - and certainly not for this situation, he reminded himself with a grin. If any other Minbari could see his lover now they'd probably die of heart failure on the spot particularly if they could see where her hand was going, he noted with a smile, dutifully sliding his own under her and pushing what remained of her Human underwear aside. She moaned warmly as his fingers slid inside her, wrapping her hand around his to guide his movements. She wanted it slow, this time, and gentle: he had no problem with that. After so long apart and the amazing orgasm she'd given him earlier, he'd do just about anything she asked right now. Not that he wouldn't usually, he reminded himself with a low chuckle as her free hand guided his head back to her breast. For Delenn, anything was possible.

   Her quiet cries grew more impassioned, sounding slightly frustrated, and he adjusted his hand slightly to let her rock her center against the heel of his palm. A soft, barely audible gasp emerged from her parted lips as he stroked her back with his other hand, a gentle pressure guiding her forward to lean into the hand that cupped hotly between her legs. She pushed down on him, and he felt his own frustration against the back of his hand with a sudden chuckle.

   "Looks like I want you again," he whispered in her ear. Delenn laughed breathlessly, turning her head to seek his mouth with hers, and a moment later a small but still strong hand closed around his stiffening penis. He slid down a little further on the couch to give them both room, kissing her harder and pulling her against him as she circled her thumb over the escaping wetness at his tip. "*Mmmm*..." He broke the kiss to cry out, groaning and pushing into her hand as she traced the sensitive crown - Goddamnit, almost teasing him... His frustrated thrust pushed his fingers deeper into her, adding a third to make her gasp and writhe against his own questing body. Her kiss burned now, as she grabbed his head and pulled him to her, rocking fiercely into his hand, and he felt that ecstatic frustration in her touch that only came with being so close to him, to letting him take her and wanting even more. Her hand moved faster on him, desperate for him to do the same and wanting to draw it out as long as possible, knowing it would be exquisite when her control finally gave out. He wanted to give her that, to tease her for as long as she could stand it; refused to move his other hand from her back, still lightly trailing up and down her spine, and she growled dangerously in frustration.

   "Johnnn..." A warning, a plea and a pleasured sigh all in one as her grasp tightened on his erection and she pushed her other hand under his, trying to touch herself where he wouldn't.

   "That's my territory, Ambassador," he reminded her with a low chuckle. He shook his head at her, holding onto her other wrist and carefully sliding her wandering hand under his to cup and stroke his testicles, gently squeezing her fingers around the base of his shaft. "This is yours..." Grunting suddenly as she began circling the head of his penis with her thumb, her other hand closing around his length and oh hell he was going to come *now*. Her fingers tightened: he thrust as far as he could into her hands, straining, feeling it come- "Oh God - *Delenn*-" He groaned loudly, her hand suddenly wet around him as she rubbed long, slow strokes in rhythm with the hot, pulsing orgasm rushing through his body. "Ohhh, that's good, that's *GOOD* ohhhh hell-" She laughed softly at his words, the sound strangling into a gasp as he lost complete control for a moment and his stroking fingers plunged deep inside her. She tensed involuntarily and he felt it, struggling to come back down from that blinding height to force his eyes to hers. "Delenn..." He took a deep breath, guilt and concern flashing through him as he pulled himself back under control. "Delenn, honey... I'm sorry..." Another breath evened his heartbeat, calming the wild pounding in his ears. "Did I hurt you?" "A-a little." She shifted back slightly, sliding away from his hand: he held onto her, reaching up to stroke her hair tentatively in apology. "I'm sorry, honey. I didn't mean to." "I know." She took his hand, leaning into his arms to reassure him. "Shh. It's all right." "It shouldn't be." He wrapped his arms around her, wanting to apologise and smiling in relief as he felt her still-responsive body pressed eagerly against his. Evidently it had been more discomfort than pain: he'd only ever hurt her once by accident, obviously by being too rough when she hadn't expected it, but he kept that image firmly ingrained in his mind as a warning and he knew Delenn's face when she was in pain. He'd seen it far too often for his liking, and his worst nightmare was to know that he had brought that look to her gentle features. He looked down at her, uncertainly: the discomfort had faded from her eyes, and he saw a mixture of frustration and disappointment marring her features. He grinned suddenly as a thought came to him: pulled her close and stood up, balancing himself quickly to avoid dropping her as he headed for the bedroom.

    He put her down gently on the bed; she held onto him, trying to pull him atop her, but he placated her with a soft kiss as he knelt to one side and reached down, sliding his hand between her legs to stroke her gently again. Her hips lifted instinctively to him and he quickly slipped off the final silken and by now wet impediment, laying her naked on the bed. She shifted for a moment, settling more comfortably; her legs parted willingly as she saw the intent in his eyes and he lowered his head to suck gently on her nipple. One hand circled lightly on her stomach, tracing delicate patterns over her skin: the other cupped her other breast, kneading and teasing her nipple, and he smiled in satisfaction as it tightened under his touch and she arched her back into his caresses.

   His hands slid down her body, followed perhaps more slowly than she would have liked with warm, exploring kisses that lingered in all the places he knew she was most sensitive. She writhed under his touch, gasping as he found another delicate area of skin with his tongue and letting out a long, blissful sigh as he slid down between her legs. Strong hands came to rest on her thighs, gently holding her down: she relaxed consciously under his touch, unable to help a spark of laughter when he teased a particularly sensitive spot on her inner thigh with his tongue. A low chuckle hummed back at her, and Sheridan paused for a moment to look up at her and gently lower his head onto her smooth stomach, grabbing for her hand. A warm tingle of pleasure shivered over her skin as he traced the lines of her palm teasingly with his tongue; looking down at her attentive and very comfortable lover where he half-lay, half-knelt between her legs with his slightly rough cheek tickling her stomach. The sensations his tongue created on her palm only added to the slowly rising anticipation, knowing he hadn't abandoned his aim; was simply taking his time over her, knowing what he could do to her if he made her wait.

   She reached down to run her fingers lightly through his hair; returning his gesture of love and urging him gently downward. He chuckled again even as he yielded to her appeal, turning his head to kiss an unbroken trail down between her legs. Her hands grasped at his as he buried his face in her, his tongue exploring her moist warmth; he pulled her hands down to rest on her parted thighs, covering them firmly with his, and she moaned quietly as he flicked his tongue over her clitoris. He was teasing her now, and a soft cry emerged from her throat at the unbearably delicate sensation.

   "John..." She moaned loudly again, feeling the sound ripple in her throat as he dipped his tongue into her and she writhed against him. "*Please*, ohhh..." as he slid his hands down to cup her buttocks and lift her up to his mouth, thrusting his tongue deeper. He explored her with long, slow strokes, nestling his face into her center and her hands tightened involuntarily on her own skin at the strange sensation of his roughened cheeks on tender skin. He was smiling, she could tell, hearing his own muffled hum at the pleasure he was so obviously giving her. His hands kneaded gently, rhythmically on her buttocks as he tilted his head slightly, rubbing his nose against her clitoris and feeling her swell and shudder under his teasing.

   "Mmmm, ohh... oh, yes..." and a long, blissful gasp as he swirled his tongue around her clit and pressed his open mouth to her, suddenly quickening the pace of her arousal. She pushed down onto his stroking tongue, gasping for breath as the rippling heat began to rush out, engulfing her writhing body in a deep, overwhelming pleasure. He closed his lips around her, sucking on her swollen clit, and a sharp cry tore from her throat as orgasm overtook her completely and she lost sense of everything but his hands sliding up her back and his amazing mouth at the center of the hot, blinding pleasure that exploded inside her.

   "Ohhhh, oh - John - *ohhh*..."

   "Shh, I'm here." He slid up to kiss her, smoothly replacing his tongue with a gently stroking fingertip as her hips pushed restlessly into his hand and he rubbed faster on her center. "Go on, Delenn. No one else is gonna hear you, you can come for me, come as loud as you like-"

   Her head tipped back then and her hips rose wildly from the bed, and her sudden cry was half-sob, half-scream as a second incredible orgasm exploded under his fingers. "Ohhhhh, *VALEN*!"

   He laughed then, triumphantly and in deep pleasure as she pulled him close, shaking uncontrollably and gasping for breath that refused to enter her lungs. "Hey, it's okay. Easy," he murmured close to her hair. There was a low chuckle in his voice. "Easy, hon." His arms wrapped around her, strong and gentle, cradling her close as the shaking subsided and she laid her head on his chest; breathless and still trembling as her hand sought his. Sheridan smiled tenderly, threading his fingers firmly between hers and looking down at her blissful expression with a soft chuckle.

   "All better?"

   Delenn looked up at him with darkened eyes, still gasping for breath as her heart pounded in her ears. "Oh, Valen..." A watery laugh escaped her lips, her face flushed in the afterglow. "That was..." She couldn't find the words in her mind, still blank from the intensity of orgasm now that she was in his arms again. She didn't need them, though, to tell him how she felt or how incredible it had been. He grinned, knowing what she meant without words. "I could tell." He chuckled as she pulled in another deep, shuddering breath and he felt her thudding heartbeat against his chest. "Pretty amazing?" "*Wonderful*..." She shook her head in amazement and he smiled, satisfied as he tilted her head up to kiss her lightly on the forehead. "My pleasure, love. Really," he chuckled again at her surprised glance. "Don't you know I love doing that to you?" "Is there anything..." she paused for a breath, "...that you would not do for me?" "No." He didn't hesitate, and even as she smiled he saw her eyes shine with unshed tears of joy at such honesty. He grinned wryly, not wanting to make her cry, whatever the reason. "Although, there are a couple things I might not be *able* to do for you for a while now." At her curious expression he flashed her a rueful smile. "The soul is more than willing, Delenn, but the flesh, as they say, is getting weak in its old age."

   "You are not old," she admonished firmly. "And there is nothing 'weak' about your flesh, I assure you." To her delight he coloured involuntarily at her rather obvious phrasing, even as he gave her an apologetic shrug. "Yeah, well; weak or not, I don't think there's much left in me tonight. You know you're a great strain on a guy," he teased with a smile in his eyes. Delenn smiled impishly. "I'm sure you can handle me." Sheridan laughed and grabbed her decisively, rolling over to lay her on his chest and wrap strong arms and legs completely around her. "Oh, now *that* is something I can definitely do."

   "I thought so." Her eyes suddenly sparkled in a way he found vaguely unnerving, and one small, lithe hand disappeared between them. "Is it good to know that I can... handle you, as well?"

   "Mmm." His eyes softened with a warm pleasure as she wrapped her hand around the length of him, cupping him gently, more in affection than a deliberate attempt at arousal. "You're very good at it, if I do say so in a somewhat precarious position right now."

   "John." Her voice was slightly reproving, tinged with concern and she stroked him lightly, reassuringly. "I would never hurt you," she insisted as gentle fingertips explored his length.

   "I know. I was just... kidding..." He blinked, all of a sudden feeling a *very* odd and extraordinarily erotic sensation under her hand. He wasn't entirely sure what she did; her fingers moved over his shaft, massaging slightly in a way that she had never done before and which made him literally jump in her hand. "What the-"

   "It is a Minbari technique," she explained with a wicked glint in her eyes at his swift stare - half shock and half arousal. "I had a lot of time to read on my trip home."

   He coughed, still more than a little amazed at the undeniable rush of heat suddenly focussing in his groin. "I'll say. Why the hell haven't you read about this was before?"

   Delenn laughed, trailing a finger coyly down his chest. "I did not think I needed to." He grinned wryly. "True enough. You don't need tricks any more than you need a hole in the head." He chuckled slightly, aware of her quizzical expression and hummed quietly with pleasure as her hand still gently massaged his unexpected but nevertheless rigid erection. "Although I wouldn't be too quick to judge after *this*."

   "I wasn't sure it would work so... fully," she admitted with a pleased and slightly coy smile. "Minbari physiology is very different to Humans, but I had time to... adjust... the idea."

   "I'll say." He looked up at her, naked and smiling, and a wave of emotion flooded over him as his eyes met hers and she registered his intense approval of her position. He sat up slowly, drawing her up to sit straddled across him with her hands resting lightly on his shoulders and his back to the wall. "Hold me," he murmured in a quiet, suggestive tone. A smile touched her lips and she kissed him tenderly, sliding her hand up to gently surround his sudden erection. He smiled against her mouth and pulled back for a moment, shaking his head.

   "Not that way." Sliding his hands under her to lift her up to him. Delenn smiled beautifully, joyfully; her eyes shone as she took her weight from his hands, leaning into his chest and brushing slowly up against him. He took advantage of the position to place a light kiss between her breasts, grinning up at her as she looked down into his eyes.

   She lowered herself easily onto him: took him in to the hilt, warm and wet and beautiful, a soft moan of pleasure purring in her throat at the feeling of being filled so completely. His hips lifted instinctively to meet her, his eyes sliding closed with a quiet moan as she leaned into him, her breasts resting on his chest and her breath warm on his flushed skin. Her weight held him down, refusing to allow the instinctive movement his body wanted and his mind, as she looked down at him with that unique mixture of passion and contentment that made his heart leap. He smiled up at her, reaching up to take her face in his hands and pull her to him, his breath warming her lips in a quiet murmur.

   "Welcome home, honey."

   She laughed then, warm and sparkling with amusement; lifting her head and gracefully baring her neck, inviting his kisses. He chuckled in response against her smooth skin, leaving a cool trail as his lips and tongue traced the taut cords of her neck. He nuzzled gently under her jaw, feeling her pulse hard and strong against his lips with a silent smile.

   "Mmm..." Delenn tipped her head slightly to encourage his explorations. "I like that..."

   "Mmm?" He hummed in question on her skin and a soft laugh purred under his kisses. "Nice?"

   "Most definitely..." There was a sparkle of laughter and a deep contentment in her voice. "John?"

   "Hmm?" He didn't move from his lazy caresses, knowing from her light, curious tone that she didn't mean him to stop.

   "Do you think... is it always like this?" He lifted his head briefly to look questioningly at her. "Between your people, when you make love. So..."

   "What?" He sounded just a little concerned, despite their position and the soft smile on her lips.

   "I don't know..." she tried to find the right words, a light sigh of contentment escaping her lips. "So wonderful... intimate." She touched his face with tender, almost timid fingertips, and there was a kind of wonder in her eyes. "Complete."

   "Not always." His voice was quiet as he reached up and delicately stroked her crown, a smile filled with tenderness on his lips. "But with us... every time. At least, it has been from this end." He drew his hand slowly down to her face, across her cheek. "Do I need to ask...?"

   A smile, bright and absolutely content, shone in her eyes then as she pressed her palm tenderly to his face in mirror of his touch. "Always, my love." She turned her head and kissed his palm, closing her eyes softly. "Always."

   "I'm never going to leave you, Delenn." He wasn't sure where the words came from, only that they were true and it was the right time to say them now. "I want you to know that. Whatever happens tomorrow, or after that, I'll always be here with you."

   "I know." Her voice was thick with sudden emotion as she opened her eyes and leaned close to kiss him. "I know..."

   Her mouth brushed his, her lips parting as he responded to the kiss with a slow, distinct passion that seemed to be nothing less than an extension of her own. Complete? Oh, yes. Complete, unique, unlike anything else she had ever experienced with him or anyone else. She made a conscious effort, squeezing her inner muscles tightly around him as his kisses explored her mouth, feeling him tense in reaction to her, in perfect counterpoint. "Oh God." He was amazed at how suddenly quiet his voice sounded, feeling her clench tightly around him. "Oh, God, honey..."

   "Shh, shh, I know..." Her own voice was breathless, filled with a wonder that never faded no matter how many times he made her feel this way. "Valen..." Her prayers mingled with his, and he saw tears well momentarily in her eyes as she looked down at him and he was caught in her beautiful, stunned gaze. He didn't have to move, didn't have to make any effort, much to his surprise and wonder: Delenn did everything, and even everything wasn't much. She simply stayed perfectly, outwardly still, gazing into his eyes, her lips so close that he felt her breath mingle with his as strong, slow waves of contraction rippled through her, enfolding him in her body and her own emotions at their joining. She tilted her head and kissed him, softly: love, not passion now, her touch delicate. He wondered, as another slow wave of warm, deep pleasure flowed over them both, if this was what 'making love' truly meant. Was it strange, then, he wondered in a thought that was wildly out of place, that he felt it now and only now, with someone who wasn't even his own species?

   The answer was in her eyes, as her hands brushed his face and she gently, lovingly ran her fingers through his hair. No, not strange - just incredibly, miraculously *right* for it to be her. If there was ever anything called fate, this was it: to find the one person who completed him amongst so many, over such a distance, over everything that had once and should still have kept them apart.

   "My Delenn..." He held her gently, his hands in her hair, smiling into her eyes with all the love in his heart. She didn't mind that, he knew, because they both knew it was true: she *was* his, the other half of him, completed just when they both needed it so much. "My love... my life..."

   A quiet sob, out of place and yet oddly expected, filled her throat, and he smiled in understanding as a glistening tear trailed down her cheek.

   "It's okay, baby." He'd never called her that before, usually finding it an overly corny endearment, but right now he had the overwhelming urge to do so. She tightened around him, struggling to hold back the emotion he saw in her eyes as her body tensed again, warmth flooding her as she came even closer to the edge. "Let it go. I'll catch you. I'm here, baby. I'm here..."

   "John..." Her voice was filled with an absolute and fierce adoration that, even from her, he had never heard so completely before. "I... I love you..."

   His eyes sparkled with awe as he saw the astonished joy in her face, her control released at his gentle urging and her body trembling as she came silently and incredibly, gazing into his eyes as an immense orgasm overtook her. Gentle hand framed her face; he held her, kissing away the quiet tears sliding down her cheeks, whispering softly in a mixture of English and Minbari to calm and encourage her. He spoke little of her language, but what he did know was intimately suited to this time and place and she responded in kind, murmuring joyfully through her tears as if she hadn't even noticed they were there. Holding his gaze she rose slowly to slide up his body, lifting her head after a moment and sighing softly as he kissed her neck, licking and biting gently, encouraging soft gasps of astonished pleasure from her throat as she slid down onto him again. Strong, fierce hands closed tighter in his hair, sliding down to his neck, and he groaned quietly at the light but intensely erotic scratch of fingernails on his skin. She rose up again; slowly, so slowly, and he couldn't hold himself back as she took him into her tight, wet center again.

   "*Delenn*..." There didn't seem to be any other word in his mind as it rushed over him, consuming him, taking over his body in a never-ending flood of pure pleasure. There was only her name, whispered on his lips over and over - only that and "I love you..." She mouthed the words with him, shaking in his arms; her gaze still locked with his, and he saw everything in those shining green eyes. He saw her come, again and suddenly and violently, hardly expecting it so close on the heels of the first. He saw her fall, in those wide and astonished eyes: wrapped his arms completely around her as her body shuddered and inarticulate gasps and sobs tore from her throat. He turned his head to nuzzle her shoulder, gently easing her hair back and soothing her flushed, trembling body with exhausted kisses as the intensity of his own orgasm finally began to recede. Soft, trembling hands slid into his hair, holding him to her, and he rocked her gently to calm her. "Shh, it's okay, I love you, it's okay..."

   They stayed that way for longer than he could put a time to, her hands coming to rest on his shoulders as his own held her close, stroking her back and smoothing her hair. His breath was warm and uneven on her neck, a soothing reminder of his closeness even as he cradled her against his chest. His hands were soft and exhausted on her back, and she slid her own up to surround his neck and hold him to her. After another long, deafening silence filled only with gasping breaths and the occasional whispered half-word, she felt searching fingertips on her face: lifting her head, smiling quietly as he lowered them both onto the pillows and turned to face her.

   "Delenn," he whispered softly. She smiled in reply, reaching up wonderingly to touch his face, still speechless from the sudden intensity of their joining. His fingers mirrored hers, softly stroking her hair, and after a moment she felt him trace the line of her crest with a fingertip. "Has anyone ever told you... you're amazing?"

   She laughed, very softly and very amused. "You, many times."

   "Not the way I mean it now." His eyes reflected the words he couldn't find; he slid one hand down to take hers, wanting her to know. "My sweet, gorgeous Delenn... what would I do without you?"

   "Certainly not *that,*" she murmured with a smile. He chuckled, gathering her into a gentle hug.

   "You are amazing, Delenn. I don't think there are words..."

   "Shi'n'a... sechli e'le vi." She smiled at his confusion, turning her head to place a kiss on his roughened cheek. "The other half of me. My soul." "Yes." He smiled, realising she knew without his own feeble attempts at words. "You are, you know." He said it almost conversationally; Delenn smiled, lifting her head to meet his soft gaze with hers and replacing her kiss with a loving hand. "Mi'shna i'len'a'l..."

   He almost recognised those words, although the tense was different somehow, searching for the translation before he remembered there wasn't one at least, not that he knew. "What is that, Delenn?"

   "I..." She paused, trying to find the words, and he saw the same brief focus that had filled his own thoughts echo on her features. "It means... a joining. A-a connection, between..." she paused again, frowned slightly, and then shook her head tiredly. "I can't explain it." She tried again for a moment "It's... a spiritual joining."

   "It's certainly that," he agreed fervently. She smiled.

   "It means... a love of the soul. A true union." She struggled again for a moment, then finally seemed to find words that, if not translating, at least explained. "I wanted to tell you... that you are a part of me. That when we were together, it was... I wasn't alone." She lifted his hand in hers, pressing it between her breasts. "In my heart - in my soul, you were with me. Completely," she added with a half-teasing smile. His answer was an equal smile, touched with deep affection at her honesty. The words weren't everything, but they didn't have to be: he'd felt it, seen it in her eyes when the world went silent and all that existed was the love they shared.

   "Soul mates," he suggested quietly. Delenn looked at him in surprise, her smile suddenly widening.

   "Yes. Soul mates..." Her voice trailed off for a moment, her eyes distant with wonder: he smiled, remembering something and softly touching her cheek for attention.

   "I was thinking, when we were..." He still couldn't find a word to describe it completely and gave up trying. "Maybe that's what it's like to make love. Really, I mean. If it's something two people can can bring into the world, then that must be it." He saw tears blur her eyes again and smiled, brushing them gently away. "I never did that with anyone before, you know. I don't think..." He looked lovingly into her eyes, wanting her to understand despite his clumsy attempts at words. "I don't think I could, with anyone else."

   "No." She smiled beautifully, her eyes shining as she drew him into a tender kiss. "There are only two halves to a soul, John. Only the two of us."

   "Mmm..." He smiled lazily and held her close, tucking her head under his chin and nestling his face in her hair. "You know what?"

   "Not until you tell me," Delenn answered with a quiet laugh, snuggling into his arms. He chuckled.

   "Well, then. What would you say," he lowered his lips to her ear, "if I told you that you are *the* most gorgeous woman this side of the Rim - and probably the other side as well?"

   "I would say that I am in good company," she breathed over his cheek with an appreciative sparkle in her voice. Sheridan laughed, nuzzling her neck.

   "You think I'm gorgeous?"

   "Yes." She gave a delighted laugh at his sudden surprise. "Of course, my love. And after tonight..." There was still a kind of awe in her voice at the force of their connection. "Could you doubt me?"

   "I never doubt you, Delenn."

   "Good." She smiled teasingly. "Then I will try not to allow your... how do you say it? Your 'male ego', to grow too large."

   "You can try." He grinned, nibbling lightly on her ear and chuckling as a shiver ran through her and she squirmed in his arms. "Unless you plan on never making love to me again, though, I don't think it'll work."

   She looked up at him for a moment; smiled teasingly and sighed in mock resignation. "I will just have to endure it, then, I suppose."

   "I think you can keep me in line," he assured her. Delenn smiled wickedly, and a moment later he felt her hand cup around him, gently fondling, exploring.

   "Mmm... I think, yes, I can manage that." Her other hand slid into his hair, drawing him to her for a questioning kiss. He returned it for a long while, teasing her lips with his teeth, exploring her mouth with his tongue as her own twined against it. For all that she had teased at arousing him, this kiss was more an expression of love and affection than the intensity of passion that so often overtook them. But then, he didn't remember the last time he'd kissed Delenn and not felt so deeply in love with her if he ever hadn't. They'd been kissing each other for so long now that in this, if nothing else, they were perfectly matched: literally two halves of a whole, needing no communication and yet constantly connecting without words convenient, given that speaking really wasn't an option in this situation. They could say so much without words now: with a glance or a touch, or a kiss that could speak of so much more than their love. Much as he tried, he couldn't push back the thought of how helpful, how much more easy and comfortable that connection could be if they could show it in public...

   And his mind betrayed him, pulling him back from the sensation of kissing and being kissed so perfectly, with this woman who completely understood him. He drew back and sighed, glancing down from her concerned eyes.

   "You know it's late, love." His voice was quiet and hesitant. Why couldn't he have just forgotten, just for one night? Why, after such a wonderful night, did he have to go and ruin things? Delenn took a slow breath, closing her eyes for a moment. *Now?* But of course now, she reminded herself. Because now things were so right and loving between them, and he knew as well as she did that it could not last the night. The emotions, the connection was still there, but she was selfish: she wanted him with her, inside her and surrounding her. Sinful, her people would probably have called her: base and uncivilised to put physical pleasure above that spiritual connection and the needs of a prophecy that was trying to take place around them. But she never remembered prophecy here, with him: felt so safe and secure in his arms, the only place she could be simply herself...

   "Do you have to go?" She tried not to sound pleading, but when he looked down it was obvious his own reluctance met with hers. Whether it was a purely Human reaction or not, he was at least as selfish as she.

   "I should. I've got a meeting early in the morning." He sighed, closing his eyes and trying to pretend that for a few minutes at least he didn't have to leave her after this. "I don't want to, Delenn."

   "I know." Her voice was quiet as she looked down at their joined hands. The tired resignation on her face, a look he knew so well in recent months, hurt more than anything else he knew. Other problems, not that they'd really had any, could be dealt with: *this* was the unconquerable boundary, the painful reality of their lives. Had it been only personal, he would never have bothered to keep his feelings for her secret: but the connection between them was far more than that. Political, professional, somewhat prophetic although he didn't quite understand how, and deeply spiritual especially after tonight. Not to mention defiantly unique: Human and Minbari, former enemies both high enough in status to be risking much more than their positions if they were discovered now.

   "I can stay a couple more hours." It was late anyway, and no one would see him so late at night. A risk, but one he was always willing to take for her. "Try and sleep, love. Hmm?"

   "I will only wake again when you go." She rolled over, tiredly closing her eyes as he spooned up close behind her. "John..."

   "Shh." He tightened his arms around her, gently stroking her hair. "I know it's hard, Delenn. I missed you too. I miss you every time you're not here," and he squeezed her gently to make sure she understood what he meant. "I need you, Delenn. I love you. And if I could show everyone on this station how much you mean to me then I would've done it a long time ago." He sighed, knowing she understood as much as it hurt them both. "I have to protect you, Delenn, if not for you then for my own peace of mind. I have to know you're safe. It's hard enough for you already-"

   "I don't *care*." She didn't turn, but her voice was almost savage to hide the sudden, swallowed tears that threatened. She couldn't sleep without him now, not after such a wonderful night together. "Nothing hurts as much as this, John. Nothing."

   "I know." He buried his face in her hair, his throat tight with emotion as he held onto her. To leave her now, as much as he had to... "Oh God, I know, Delenn." She heard the pain in his voice; feeling it as badly as she did her own and hating that she could do that to him, she reached back to stroke his hair in comfort. "Shh, it's all right. I'm here, John. I love you. Nothing else matters for now." His arms tightened around her and she turned over to take his face gently in her hands. "Stay with me tonight."

   He shook his head reluctantly. "I can't..."

   "Please." She tilted his head up, her eyes openly pleading as she met his faltering gaze. "Please, John. After tonight..." The memory of their remarkable loving shone pleadingly in her eyes. "I want to know that you're here with me." For a moment, if only a short one, she allowed him to see the fear and trepidation she felt for what was happening around them and the roles they both had to play. "At least for tonight?"

   He met her troubled gaze honestly, and the tired apprehension that looked back at her said he needed her warmth and solace as much as she wanted his. "I'm here, Delenn." He smiled, even if only slightly, and kissed her. "And not just for tonight. I promise."

   She matched his smile, reassured by the conviction in his tone. "Thank you."

   "No problem." His voice was muffled in her hair as he pulled her close. "I want this as much as you, don't forget that."

   "Never." Gentle fingers brushed through his hair, a tender smile on her lips. "We will get through this together, John. Everything. You must believe that."

   "I told you I don't doubt you." He drew back slightly to kiss the top of her head. "When you say it, I believe it."

   Delenn smiled warmly. "That would be why you love me, then, would it not?"

   "No." He smiled tenderly at her surprised expression, lovingly brushing a strand of dark hair from her cheek. "I love you because you're strong, and intelligent, and talented in *so* many ways I can't even tell you. And because you're beautiful inside *and* out, no matter who tells you otherwise." It wasn't often it happened now, but he got the feeling a few of her own people had probably been less than polite during the past week.

   Her smile grew lightly self-conscious, the way it always did when he brought up the question of her change. He knew she believed his opinion of her, no matter her own, but that still didn't keep her from being that smallest bit unsure about her appearance. In anyone else, given her obvious if Human beauty, it would probably be considered vain: in Delenn it was a simple but deep insecurity, and one that he tried to allay at every opportunity. To be raised and live her life as a Minbari and then become, to all intents and purposes, another completely different species albeit a hybrid had been harrowing to say the least, and he knew her well enough to see it where others didn't.

   "You know how beautiful you are to me, Delenn," he reminded her gently, seeing the veiled self-consciousness in her eyes and flashing her a suggestive grin. "I could show you, if you like..."

   Delenn laughed softly, nestling back into his arms. "You have already done that more times than I remember."

   "Good." The word was filled with resounding satisfaction. "You know, one day soon, I'm gonna show you again. In public."

   Her laughter was louder then, and delightedly amused. "That would *not* be a good idea!"

   "Oh, I don't know." He pulled back and grinned at her, trailing a finger lightly up her spine. "I can think of a few places we wouldn't be... interrupted."

   Delenn looked up at him for a moment: her gaze trailing over him, a slow, mischievous smile began to spread over her face and her eyes glinted.

   "Well, if that is what you wish..." She sat up slightly and pushed him teasingly back into the pillows, rolling over to lie on his chest. One finger traced the muscles of his arm, an innocent smile flitting onto her lips. "Perhaps you should show me again what you have in mind."

   Sheridan chuckled, grinning at that seemingly coy expression that hid a quickly rising passion. "My pleasure, honey." He ran his fingers through her hair, pulling her down to meet his kiss. "My pleasure."

[END]

 

*****

 

 

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