THE FAITHFUL V

By Leyenn

 

 

 

TITLE: The Faithful (5/9)
AUTHOR: Leyenn
E-MAIL: Leyenn@aol.com
DISCLAIMERS: in part one - as always, thanks to my beta friends and to everyone who's bothering themselves to read this. Please tell me what you think!

 

 

 

 

*****

    "Delenn. Delenn."

    She could hear her name; a soft male voice, over and over, wonderfully soothing through the almost painful ache filling her body. She felt as if she were fighting, struggling through a thick haze that weighed down on her, pushing her down, holding her unconscious as much as she fought against it.

    "Delenn?" She became aware of a familiar tightness in her right hand, a gentle warmth around her left as the voice became clearer. "Delenn, can you hear me?"

    'Yes,' she wanted to say, but she seemed to be floating in her own body without the control to speak or even open her eyes. She tried to reach out, hearing that voice again. John? Was it him? His hand grasping hers? She couldn't make it out, her head - now that she could feel it - heavy and aching. John... Was he there? He'd been there before, last she remembered. Was it his voice, calling her name? There was something strange about it, but perhaps that was the pain in her head. Perhaps he was awake; he'd been sleeping-

    Memory came back to her, and she was profoundly thankful when she found her voice to scream.

    "JOHN!"

    The hand tightened on hers as she shot up from the bed she must have been lying on, her eyes flying open in panic. "John! No!"

    "Hey, hey!" Someone pushed her back down to the bed, and the grasp on her hand disappeared as strong hands settled on her shoulders. "Delenn." There was nothing soothing in that tone now, and it was a different voice: sharper, stronger. "Delenn, listen to me."

    Her eyes focused, with painful difficulty, to see Susan Ivanova leaning over her. They were her hands that pinned Delenn to the bed, her voice demanding attention. She frowned, half in confusion and half panic. "Susan?" John. "What happened?!"

    "He's okay. He's okay, Delenn."

    Okay? She had grown used to the Human phrase, and it certainly did not describe John as she had last seen him. "No, no-"

    "Yes." Ivanova shook her gently, meeting and holding her frightened gaze. "Trust me. He's gonna be fine."

    "Susan." That calm male voice spoke again, and Delenn managed to turn her head far enough to see Marcus standing over her, his hand close to hers on the bed. Ivanova looked up at him for a second: after a moment and with a reluctant nod she stepped back. Delenn sat up instantly, panic still running through her at the vivid memory or John's lifeless body and the terrifying loneliness of that empty room.

    Then Marcus' hand covered hers, quiet but firm, and it was clear she wasn't going anywhere. He looked almost sternly at her then; she forced herself to lie back, suddenly exhausted under that resolved expression, but her roiling emotions must have been clear on her face because he smiled slightly, stepping away from the bed.

    "I'll get an update for you."

    Delenn tried to smile gratefully, but her concern outweighed the effort and she had to stare at the ceiling to regain some semblance of control. Ivanova's hand tightened momentarily on her shoulder, trying to reassure her. "Don't worry. He's okay, really."

    Delenn looked helplessly at her as the Ranger slipped quickly out of the door. The commander grinned wryly.

    "Listen, you go ahead and worry to your heart's content. It's you he'll shout at when he wakes up."

    It was a somewhat light-hearted way to try, but it somehow reassured her more than the words to hear such an easy tone again. Susan could be even more stoic than a Minbari if she was worried, but she never joked about such things. Hope blossomed in her, tears of relief welling in her eyes.

    "Susan..."

    "He's really fine, Delenn." Ivanova squeezed her hand, smiling. It was inexplicably soothing to feel that, Delenn noticed. For all that she was still Minbari, at least in some ways, there was an informality to Human affection that was always refreshing - and never more so than now, when she so desperately wanted company after so many weeks of isolation even before her reckless ordeal. She felt a tear escape, surprising herself that she didn't try to stop it. John was alive - that was all that mattered now. That he was alive, and home, and they could be together again.

    "Can I see him?" It was a sudden, overwhelming need. Ivanova made a face.

    "I wouldn't rate your chances. According to Stephen, you owe him at least a week of bed rest and he's ready to strap you down if you try running off again."

    Delenn winced inwardly. She hadn't considered, so desperately driven to reach John, how her sudden disappearance must have affected those who still remained behind. Believing John dead, with Mister Garibaldi missing, to consider losing her as well must have hurt them all deeply.

    "I am sorry, Susan." She hoped they would believe that of her. "I didn't think..."

    "Doesn't matter." The other woman shook her head at the insistence. "There's enough guilt to go round already around here. You don't need any more." She flashed a warm smile and a shrug. "Besides, everyone's so glad you're both alive we don't care about anything else right now."

    A smile touched her lips, remembering Marcus' expression when he had held her hand and the certainty in his quiet voice. But there had been something else there, too... an almost desperate relief in his eyes, in his tense grasp. A sudden, awful thought crossed Delenn's mind, looking urgently at Ivanova: it was there too, in her face. Concern welled up again.

    "Did anything else happen while I was - gone?" Ivanova glanced away, just for a second: Delenn gripped her hand, hard, forcing her gaze down. "Susan? What is it?"

    "Nothing." She said it quietly, as if she didn't want to speak it aloud, before quickly forcing a smile. "We're just glad you're both all right."

    "There is something else." She sounded more in control now, she noticed thankfully. With John, she had allowed herself the luxury of such open emotion but here, even with the friendly affection in Susan's presence, she would much prefer some semblance of discipline. "Susan, tell me."

    "Delenn? Delenn!"

    She sat up involuntarily at the sound of that panicked shout, only Susan's hand moving to her arm restraining her from falling as she realised she wasn't as in control as she had imagined.

    "Delenn!" There was that voice again, and then as Marcus came back to the door Lennier all but skidded into the room, obviously out of breath. The nurse attending her looked up in surprise, raising her eyebrows at Ivanova who gave her a curt gesture to leave. The door, however, was blocked by Lennier: he seemed frozen to the floor, his eyes wide and unreadable. Her name rested on his lips, but he seemed suddenly unable to speak as he stared directly into her face, obviously unaware of how shaken he appeared. Delenn frowned curiously, confused, halfway to reaching for him when he backed abruptly out of the room, that unreadable expression still haunting his eyes.

    "Lennier?" She called after him, confused and suddenly worried at his quickly receding footsteps. Was he not glad to see her, to know that she was all right? Surely if Ivanova stood here, and Marcus behind him with his own relief so plain in his eyes, Lennier would want to do the same? He had sounded so desperately anxious, and yet he had not even spoken to her - as if he could suddenly do nothing but stare at her when he finally knew she was alive. Hadn't he worried for her? She knew how he felt about her, at least understood that it was more than he wanted to allow himself to feel. He above anyone would have been frantic at her disappearance.

    Was he angry with her? She struggled with the idea. He had every right, of course - they all did - but Lennier of all people would not show it so publicly. He had never, even with all the mistakes she had made and things she had had to ask him to do, ever shown his displeasure to her face before. She had probably frightened him, as she had all of them in leaving so suddenly, but she knew him well enough that he would forgive her that. What else could there be that would make him so-

    Oh, Valen, no.

    She stared at Marcus, still standing there, horror in her face. She didn't have to ask him: it was clear in his face that she was right. Lennier knew. They all knew.

    "He thought you were dead." His voice was flat suddenly, devoid of emotion or even the reassurance she very much needed now. "He thought you wanted to die, knowing what you'd done."

    Helpless tears burned her eyes as she looked away from him. He was trained in Minbari ways - he knew how great a crime she had committed, even in the name of love, even though both she and John had needed it so badly. She didn't want to look at him, couldn't, knowing she would see that awful understanding in his face even if he did not agree. She turned away from them both, trying to wipe away the tears before they started. She would not let them see her cry, not for this. For John, yes, but not for this. This was private.

    It took an immense amount of effort, more than she had believed she had left, to swallow back the tears and close her eyes, willing herself back into the blissful, peaceful oblivion of sleep. Even the fading nightmares would be better than the reality of this. How many people knew of her disgrace? How many more would find out after this was over?

    "Delenn?"

    She didn't move, trying not to care as Ivanova's voice tried to pull her back. The other woman sounded concerned, and suddenly angry. Marcus started to say something - Ivanova broke in, cutting him off.

    "Then why don't you go find him. Hmm?" That tone brooked no argument; Delenn didn't hear him leave, but he obviously obeyed the veiled command because she heard no bones breaking. After a moment, there was the sound of a chair dragged on the floor, and quietly controlled breathing close by. "Delenn."

    She opened her eyes, hearing the terse patience that threatened to crack in Ivanova's voice. She could not truthfully say she was afraid of the other woman, but she knew when it was safe to cross her and this was not one of those times.

    Ivanova was sitting now, hands clasped seriously as she leaned forward, looking squarely into her eyes. This was obviously not going to be avoided, Delenn noticed helplessly. There was nothing she could do about it now.

    "I take it this," she waved a hand at Delenn's position, "means you figured out that he knows." There was no reply. She let out an angry sigh. "I'm gonna kill that damned Ranger of yours-"

    Delenn shook her head. "It is not his fault."

    "He shouldn't have let Lennier in here until I had a chance to beat some sense into him." She sounded angry at the Ranger - not that she wasn't usually, for some reason or another. "Look, Delenn, just so you know, Stephen really didn't have a choice. I mean, I practically bullied him into it - and you know me." She shrugged ruefully, trying to lighten the moment. "Don't take no for an answer." Delenn smiled very slightly. Ivanova couldn't help it, arching an eyebrow in amusement. "Neither do you, it seems."

    It took a moment to realise what she meant; Delenn looked away abruptly, mortified that Ivanova would bring this up as well, and so crudely. Ivanova put a tentative hand on her arm, her voice sounding more reassuring now.

    "Like it or not, I do understand the basics of the act. It's all pretty much one flavor, whoever you are." Her hand tightened on Delenn's arm, grasping her attention, knowing she was listening. "I could probably give you a few hints, if you like." She flashed a look of wry amusement at Delenn's sudden stare. "Come on, I'm only Human. Believe me, I know what it's like sometimes." Her smile softened. "It's no sin to want someone, you know. Considering how fast we're going to hell around here I'd say it's the least of your worries."

    Delenn looked down. "Lennier does not believe that."

    "Neither do you, from the looks of things. I'll tell you right now, though - John doesn't regret it, and he doesn't want you to either."

    Delenn stared at her, trying to sit up. "Have you spoken to him?"

    Susan winced ruefully, holding her down and shaking her head with a slight apology. "I don't have to. I know him well enough. Besides, anyone with eyes can see how he feels about you. Even Lennier," she added with a grimace. "Though he doesn't want to. You know what he thought you were going to do, when he found out you'd gone..."

    "I know." She closed her eyes painfully. "I should have expected that he would think - when I knew what I had done..."

    "It takes two to tango," Ivanova reminded her. She frowned, confused.

    "Is that another word for-"

    "Uh-huh." Ivanova looked a little uncomfortable, but it was obvious she still wasn't going to let it drop. "Look, Delenn, I'm not going to drag myself into this. It's between you and John, but..." She sighed heavily. "Well, that's just it. This isn't something you did alone."

    "I know that, Susan."

    "Lennier doesn't." Ivanova took a deep breath, trying not to look at the images this conversation was drawing in her mind. "He doesn't think you did anything, Delenn. He thinks this is something John did to you."

    Shock and alarm jolted through her. "What?!"

    "Don't worry, he didn't have much luck convincing me. Doesn't stop him believing it, though."

    Delenn stared at her, suddenly understanding Lennier's confused display. He wasn't angry with her - the fury she had seen in his eyes was for John, not for her. Only the pity and anxiety had been for her; for what he thought she had been through and what he had believed she wanted to do because of it. Among Minbari it would be a sin punishable by death to force such an intimate thing on someone unwilling - it was no wonder he had thought she had wanted to die. The shame would be unbearable, for her, for John and especially for the child.

    But did he really think John had done that to her, even having seen them together, even knowing them both as he did?

    He didn't know what to think, she realised. Seeing her alive, knowing she had risked her life to bring John back even after his seeming betrayal. When he believed John had forced himself on her, made her outcast, how could he understand why she had done what she had?

    "Pretty much one big mess," Ivanova concurred in a rueful voice; obviously Delenn's thoughts were clearer than she thought.

    "Yes." She wondered if Susan knew how true that was.

    "He really loves you, Delenn." For a moment, Delenn wasn't sure if she meant John or Lennier. "Try not to worry too much. I'm sure it'll work out fine."

    Delenn smiled, a little amused. "That is unusual for you to say."

    Ivanova grinned wryly back at her. "Yeah, well, don't tell anyone, but I think I'm coming down with a bad case of optimism."

    "Your secret is safe," Delenn assured her. Ivanova smiled and briefly squeezed her hand as she stood up.

    "So is yours."

    Delenn put an instinctive hand on her stomach, looking up at the other woman. Ivanova grinned at the look on her face.

    "You'll be a good mother, you know. You've got the patience for it at least." She raised her eyebrows with a wry grin. "You'd have to, to put up with John Sheridan solidly for nearly a week."

    "It was... difficult." She was only half teasing. Ivanova nodded soberly and put a hand on her arm. She didn't need to reply to understand.

    "I'll send someone in to you. Stephen probably wants to talk to you - quite severely, I think." She winced ruefully. "He really hates it when his patients run out on him, you know."

    "Indeed I do." Franklin's sardonic voice came from the doorway. Ivanova flashed Delenn a mock-sympathetic smile and crossed paths with him as he came towards her. "Especially when they come back with even more work for me."

    "John," she started fearfully, suddenly aware that she had all but forgotten her injured lover.

    "He's doing fine," he reassured her firmly. "We had to do some heavy-duty stitching in his thigh, we put in a lot of regen packs and he's going to be heavily sedated for a few days, but there shouldn't be any permanent damage."

    "Can I see him?" The question rose quickly on her lips again, subdued equally swiftly by his frown as he checked her IV.

    "He's sleeping, and you should be doing the same." He quieted her protest with a firm gaze that said she would not win this argument. "The Captain may be more obviously injured, Ambassador, but you're not exactly a picture of health yourself. Your system is severely depleted, you've lost weight and you're suffering from acute fatigue. Which is a medical condition and needs treating, no matter how much you fight it." He pushed an injector into the IV, and it took only a moment before she felt the familiar hazy sensation overtake her body as her eyes drifted shut.

* * * * *

    "Lennier..."

    "No!" The vehemence in that usually calm voice shocked even Susan Ivanova. "I cannot. She knows-"

    "And whose fault is that?" Ivanova grabbed him suddenly by the arm, ignoring his surprise, scowling fiercely. "All I'm asking is that you talk to her. Go and see her. She's been back three damn days already - the least you could do is let her know you care enough to say hi."

    "Of course I care." His voice was once again quiet, but there was a deceptively composed bite to the words. "But I cannot see her."

    Ivanova stared at him: finally, with a disgusted snort, she all but pushed him away from her. "That's it. I give up. You know what? You just go on making her feel like the outcast you seem to think she is. Just - stick to your traditions and you'll be just fine. And another favor?"

    He looked at her blankly.

    "Don't bug me again until you've sorted this, or I swear to God I'll break your bone." She spun angrily on her heel and left him standing.

    "You should at least say hello, Lennier." The other, calmer participant in this less than private discussion stood tentatively against the wall of the main MedLab corridor, looking carefully serene and nonchalant. He knew Lennier didn't believe the charade, but at least he was trying. "She wants to see you, you know. She-"

    "I cannot!" Lennier turned on him, his eyes if not his body expressing his almost desperate anger. "She is shamed among Minbari. If I were to see her..."

    "Come on, Lennier. Surely you care enough to stand by her?" Marcus' tone was incredulous - as well it should be, judging from Lennier's surprised and fervent reaction.

    "I have pledged myself to her. There is nothing I would not do for her." He took a deep, supposedly calming breath. "And that is why I must stay away."

    Marcus was not too proud to admit when he was completely out of his depth. "Uh, excuse me, Lennier..." He raised a tentative hand slightly. "I missed the boat then. Mind running me through that Minbari mind-set one more time?"

    Lennier cast him a quizzical expression; when he spoke it was with exaggerated patience as if to a small, somewhat recalcitrant child.

    "If I were to see her, she would know that I know..." A bitter taste filled his mouth at the words. "That others know that she has been - intimate - with Sheridan."

    "She knows that already, Lennier."

    He took a deep breath that sounded almost like an inward growl. "She would know that I see her disgrace. I could not shame her that way."

    So that was it. Marcus just blinked, thrown off beam suddenly by the unexpected turn. Bloody hell, the Minbari had some strange ways of looking at things.

    "And what, forgive me for asking, are you doing to her by refusing to even look at her?" He didn't give the Minbari time to answer, knowing it would only be another stubborn stalling technique his species were so renowned for. "She wants to see you, Lennier. She needs to see you. She needs a friend, and I'm not it. I've tried." He shrugged, deceptively nonchalant. "Someone had to, and Ivanova's too damn busy trying to hold all our lives together to have a personal life, her own or anyone else's. All Delenn has is a personal life right now." He could see his words trying to penetrate, pushed further. "She's lonely, Lennier. It's been three days now, she's still stuck in MedLab, for all she knows the universe is going down the tube around her ears and the one person who might possibly be able to yank it back up is still lying in a coma down the corridor! She went through ten kinds of hell just to get him back alive - and believe me I know, I've heard all about it - and right when she thought everything was going right he starts trying to die on her. Forgive me again for saying so, but any small trauma she might feel from seeing you is going to run and hide in comparison."

    Lennier was actually trembling with uncertainty as the words hit home, aimed by the Ranger's steady gaze. Marcus sighed and flashed him a rueful half-grin.

    "Just go and see her, Lennier. Speak to her. Let her know you're here for her the way he can't be right now." He saw hackles rise at the mention of the Captain and winced. "There are some things you need to hear from her as well, I think. She wants to tell you, if you'll just get over yourself and talk to her." He gave the Minbari a light push down the corridor. "Go on. For her if not for you."

    For her. He took a tentative step down the corridor to the private rooms, glancing uncertainly back at Marcus, still watching him evenly. For Delenn. He could do this, for her. If she wanted it. And Marcus had certainly been insistent enough that she did, although he only hesitantly believed the Ranger. Ivanova was another matter - she knew nothing of what she said, not understanding the depth of Delenn's shame. Marcus... he knew Minbari ways, had been trained in them, but he was Human. Just as Delenn had been trained and raised as a Minbari, but was also now Human.

    Too Human.

    He stopped abruptly, his mind frozen in contest with itself as he struggled to find some answer for it. This was wrong. He did not want to bring such shame to her by looking on her, by saying what had to be said. He did not want to bring that terrible, haunting loneliness and hurt back to her face that he had seen so many times when their people rejected her. But how could he see her, talk to her, look at her, without thinking of it? She would know, and she would make him speak of it. Of her shame, her disgrace at Sheridan's hand.

    He could not do it. He took a step backward, fighting his own need to prove himself and stand at her side through such a time. He could not subject her to this. After what Sheridan had done to her... among the Humans she could pretend it was 'all right', have some semblance of peace before their people discovered her disgrace and disowned her completely. Her peace of mind meant more than his own - he could not jeopardise that. He took another step back.

    "Lennier?"

    His head jerked sharply to the side, realising too late that he had already passed her room. Delenn sat up on the flattened bed, holding a sheet of paper in her hands; she had looked up to see him there, he realised, and her face held a sudden expression of pleased relief. "I thought it was you."

    He back-pedalled suddenly, inexplicably desperate not to see her. Only the sound of her voice, thick slightly with emotion, called him back. "No! Do not go!"

    He reminded himself that he would do anything for her. He took a hesitant step forward, into the room. "Delenn?"

    "Please." She sounded almost hurt. "Please stay, Lennier. I know-" She looked down, unable to face him suddenly, her voice pleading. "I know you may not wish to, now, but..."

    This was what he had been so afraid of. That she would be too ashamed to look at him and see that he did not care what Sheridan had done to her, that she was still Minbari in his eyes. Her soul and heart were still pure, no matter the Human sullying of her body. He believed that. He wanted her to see that.

    "Of course I will stay, if you wish to see me." He crossed the room to her, seeing a spark of hope in her eyes as he sat down in the chair beside her. "How are you feeling?"

    She smiled then; a warm, genuine expression tinged only slightly with worry. "The sickness has gone. I have eaten again for the first time today." Profound relief echoed in her voice. "I am better to be home, Lennier. I am so sorry I could not tell you-"

    "It doesn't matter." He did not want this conversation. "You are home now, Delenn. Do not worry yourself with such matters."

    Her smile was gentle and somehow reproving. "It should be said, Lennier. I had no intention of frightening you all so badly, but when I left, I..." She shook her head. "I don't know any other way to explain it. I had to find him, Lennier." He could almost hear tears in her voice, but when she spoke again they were gone. "You of all people must understand that. I would be nothing without him here."

    "Do not speak of it." His voice sounded harsher than he wanted. "It is not your doing, Delenn. The disgrace should not be yours to bear."

    She looked away, sounding tired. "Ivanova told me you would say that. I tried not to believe it, but I should have known she would see far better than I." She took a deep, shuddering breath, and there was no need to see her face to know she was struggling for composure to get through what had to be said. She seemed to lose it for a moment; regaining control, just barely, to look at him through eyes that shone with tears. "I am sorry, Lennier. I never intended for this. I thought..." She swallowed her tears, turning away from him, her composure slipping with a quiet sob. "It was shameful of me, I know, but we had been through so much and I needed him so badly..."

    No. He was not hearing this. She was not telling him this. Anything, anything in the world but this. To know she had - no. It could not be true. Anything except this!

    "In Valen's name, Delenn." His voice was quiet, hurting desperately and swamped with disbelief. "Why?"

    "I don't know." Her voice broke: that wasn't true. She did know. "I can't explain it to you." Such a Human need, so alien to him. How could he hope to understand even if she could give him the words? She knew how he cared for her, how that blinded him to the truth of her change sometimes. She saw it in his face, in his eyes when he looked at her and forgot that her long, dark, alien hair was not the only difference in her body and mind.

    "I'm sorry, Lennier." She didn't know what else to say. And she was sorry, for hurting him with such a thing, for betraying his belief in her and breaking so many rules that could not be forgiven. She could never regret the act, or the child growing inside her - but for Lennier, for the pain and anger and betrayal in his eyes, she would never cease to be sorry. "I know you don't understand. I did not expect you to. But please, Lennier, do not be angry with me. I did not do this to insult our ways, or to avoid the rituals. I only..." Valen, how could he understand? "I wanted to be with him. I am Human as well as Minbari now; I feel what a Human would feel, and with John - it was so easy to be that way, to forget for a while..." She hadn't thought it would be this hard to explain, to take away that flat yet somehow angry stare. She had thought he would stand by her in this, as he had in so many other things. Above all, she had never expected the horrible pain in his eyes when he looked at her.

    "It was my choice, Lennier."

    "No." His voice was quiet, desperately clutching at denial.

    "Yes." It was hard to tell him something so personal. "I asked him. I offered myself to him. John was reluctant, but I wanted it and he would never deny me." She took a deep breath, wanting him to know, needing that final barrier of denial to fall. "It was my doing, Lennier. My choice. Do you understand?"

    He shook his head wordlessly, unable to look at her. He understood - he understood all too well. She was not Delenn anymore, not the Delenn he had known, not completely. She could never be that person again, and he had not realised it until now. To think that she had wanted it, invited it...

    "I know you were angry for me, Lennier, and I cannot blame you for that, but... as much as I do not want it, I at least deserve your anger. John does not. He never has." Bittersweet memories filled her mind. "He wanted to wait. He knows enough of Minbari ways to know it was at least frowned upon by our people." This, then, he would know; this final betrayal of who she had been. "I didn't tell him the rest. I knew he would send me away if I did, and I could not bear that. Not when I knew..." She swallowed, looking down and pushing those memories away. "I wanted us to have one night together. The rituals were taking too long, I didn't know..." she took a breath, steadying herself. "I didn't know if we would both be alive or dead by the next day. Our customs, our rituals, they were never designed for *this*, for the life we are both leading..."

    That was true, he supposed. Valen, in all his prescience, could never have foreseen the way this war would lead. But that was not reason enough to throw away so much...

    "He should know, Delenn."

    "No!" Her eyes flashed suddenly, despite her weakened state, and he saw there the possibility that for the first time in a long while, she was angry at him. "You will not speak of this with him. Or in his presence."

    He stiffened. "Will you?"

    She forced back the uncertainty that answered that question. "He knows of my condition. The rest will wait until we are both stronger. It is a private matter," she insisted firmly to quell his obviously lingering doubts. "John and I will deal with this in our own way. Perhaps it will not be a traditional way for either of us, but we will manage." Her voice softened as she laid a careful hand on his arm, unwilling to let it end this way. "It is what I want, Lennier."

    To be with Sheridan. To bear his outcast child, and in doing so make an outcast of herself. To be more Human than he had ever imagined her becoming...

    To be alien to him.

    He forced himself to show her a smile, but it only tightened the vice around his heart and soul. His tone was cool and polite. "If it is your wish."

    Delenn's smile was sorrowful as she looked back at him, her own voice soft and nearly tearful. "Thank you." Her fingers tightened gratefully on his arm; he stiffened, not noticing his own reaction until he saw the pain of understanding in her eyes.

    "I should go." His tone begged her to release him from this now, while some measure of dignity could still be salvaged. "I will arrange for your appointments to be cleared until the Captain..." He paused, just for a beat, but it echoed loudly in the room. "Until you are ready to leave."

    Delenn, to his remorseful gratitude, managed to smile at the consideration. "Thank you, Lennier."

    He turned to go.

    "Lennier?"

    He paused, and the way he stood there she could suddenly see John, angry and determined to leave even as she begged him to believe how much he meant to her. With him, the words had been easy... but for Lennier and the stiff-backed betrayal turned toward her now, there was nothing she could say.

    He left in silence.

 

*****

 

 

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