PERSUASION

By Leyenn

 

 

 

Commissioned especially for the JumpNow Archives
a.k.a. Happy Birthday Berry!!!!

Did anyone wonder why, in 'Objects At Rest', John and Delenn had a Minbari bed, but by the time we got to 'Sleeping In Light' :::sob::: they were sleeping Human-style? Well, I didn't really, but then Ern (thank you for the sleepless nights, btw ) asked me to present our dear friend Berry with a nice sweet, NC-17 season five fic that had to be finished in under a week.... and 'Persuasion' was born. Happy birthday Berry! This one's especially for you....

 

 

 

 

 *****

   John Sheridan stood in the doorway to the bedroom, dressed only in dark blue boxers, looked at the bed and sighed.

   It had been a long day. They were still unpacking here, although their living quarters were looking much more homely and much less like a construction site than when they'd arrived last week, so he knew - despite the huge numbers of boxes still cluttering the place - that they were making progress. The same couldn't be said for the Alliance, however: he'd spent every minute today either hip-deep in paperwork or neck-deep in meetings, and he hadn't made one iota of difference to anything. The Ambassadors were as stubborn and petty as they had been back on Babylon 5, but this time he was getting to know them all, all over again. The racial types carried over, of course: the Drazi was as irritating as ever, the Pak'Ma'Ra turned up everywhere, the Narn was already gloating over the Centauri betrayal... the only one he could cope with, could even break *even* with right at the moment, was the Minbari Ambassador - who, just to fit in with his run of luck, just happened to be sleeping right now.

   He looked at her, looked at their bed, and sighed.

   It was their bed, their home at long last. Not just the bed they shared, or the quarters they shared, but *theirs*. Belonging to both of them. They'd been sleeping together for very close to a year as a married couple - even before that when they'd had the time, but this last week had been the first time they'd slept in their own bed. 'Slept' being the operative and very inactive word.

   It wasn't the angle, really it wasn't: he'd been frustrated at learning the meditations at first, but he had at least gotten used to the absurdity of sleeping at that angle relatively quickly. He'd spent half the nights of the past year sleeping like that, after all, and he would have done anything - *learnt* anything, no matter how tedious and time-consuming, in order to spend every night with Delenn in his arms. He still would, he reminded himself. That wasn't ever going to change, no matter what strange and bizarre ritual she managed to conjure up to subject him to next. They'd spent their *wedding night* on a Minbari bed, for God's sake: he still hadn't quite gotten the hang of it then, but the ceremony had been so spur-of-the-moment that they hadn't had time to organise other arrangements and they had managed quite admirably... Not to mention, he remembered wryly, that neither of them had wanted to mention it to the crew, knowing that full Minbari would never understand the need.

   Maybe that was the problem, he thought suddenly. He didn't see Delenn as a Minbari, as a real, flesh-and-blood alien being: oh, as the Minbari Ambassador, of course, as one of the people of this planet, but first and foremost she was the woman he loved. Race and religion and culture just didn't come into it.

   But, he realised thoughtfully as he watched her sleep on that damned slanted contraption, maybe it did for her. Was he an alien to her? Certainly his customs were different, his appearance to some extent, but many of their day-to-day activities were the same: much more than they would have been if she were still fully Minbari. Fully *alien*.

   Delenn wasn't an alien, he admonished himself. Even if he could banish the connotations that brought and see it logically, it wasn't true here. Here *he* was the alien, living now on the world his wife called home. She'd come home, at last, after how many years away, and he'd been stupid enough to think that it wouldn't affect her to finally be among her own people again. Babylon 5 had been as close to Earth as her life could be without living there: she'd had to adapt to fit his world, just as he had to adapt now to fit in with hers. He'd thought he'd accepted that - he had, really. He'd known that changes would have to be made and that he might not be comfortable with it at first - but where had they agreed that he would have to be literally and physically uncomfortable with it for the next eighteen years?

   He looked at the bed again: Delenn lay on her back, hands folded comfortably on her belly to cover their slowly growing child and eyes closed peacefully in sleep. Even with his own now practiced grasp of the meditations, he couldn't understand how she managed to relax so completely like that. The covers were drawn up to her waist, only lightly: his body clock told him it was winter now, but here in Tuzanor it was early summer and the air was surprisingly warm. Delenn, it had to be admitted, didn't sleep in typical Minbari clothing, but he knew she preferred the simple Human nightgown he'd bought her - and so did he, most nights the sight of her dressed that way being more than enough to entice him into their bed. So why, tonight, after such an honestly shitty day, was he still standing there and watching the empty side of that bed?

   He sighed heavily and shook his head, crossing to sit down and swing himself reluctantly onto the pallet. He remembered the first time he'd slept like this: the striking detail at the time had been Delenn's hand in his, the soft rain lulling him to sleep, but he still couldn't quite blank out his complete ineptitude back then. At least he could stay on the damn thing now... with ten minutes of meditation at least, and after some squirming to get settled. Delenn's bed on the station had been moderately comfortable, but this thing was typical Minbari efficiency: all pallet and no mattress and - if it were possible - even more uncomfortable than what the White Stars had to offer. And as for sex... he was adult enough to admit that he needed that, and he'd thought Delenn did too - hell, he'd *known* she had back on the station, but here there'd been not hide nor hair of anything since her head had first touched what passed for a pillow on this stupid thing. He kept his final sigh inward, not wanting to wake her: finally closed his eyes, settling into the meditations despite his brain's complaints of exhaustion. This was crazy. He couldn't live like this for eighteen years - he couldn't live like this for eighteen *days*, and it had already been nearly ten. He was going to *have* to do something.

   -----

   She was already up when he woke the next morning: the bed on her side was loosely made, and her robe was missing from what was becoming its usual spot on the bedroom chair. He smiled, glad she hadn't dressed yet: he finally had a few hours free this morning, and perfect opportunities didn't come around too often.

   He didn't bother with his own robe, inordinately grateful to climb off that bed and stretching stiffly as he padded through into the main living area. Minbari homes tended not to be so regimented as Humans: just like back on the station, the kitchen was tacked onto the side of the living room, but here it was much bigger and provided with every possible amenity... and the same went for their house in general, really. Given that there was much less habitable space on Minbar than Earth, thousands of years of history had not only perfected their grand technological advances but the more mundane things as well, and the house didn't have to be palatial to be luxurious. Their every need was catered for, and no matter how odd some things seemed to the acolytes that served them, if either of them so much as hinted at anything that wasn't they'd come home to find it fixed without question.

   Well, almost anything...

   Delenn was sitting at the breakfast table, her back to him, when he stepped into the room: their main living room actually *was* palatial, the same size as his complete quarters had been on the station, and the small table came in useful when they wanted to eat in privacy rather than the more public dining area downstairs. Delenn still didn't let him cook for her, but she was moderately capable in that area - as proved by the rather rich smell coming from the table as he approached on quiet feet, leaning carefully over her shoulder.

   "Smells good. More of that native cuisine you keep trying to make me eat?"

   Delenn turned her head and smiled, dropping the paper she'd been reading to accept his light kiss. It had become a custom for them, a better greeting than 'good morning' on those mornings when things really weren't too good. He'd already decided, however, that today was going to be better than most: instead of coming to sit beside her, he cupped one hand against her cheek and deepened the kiss. She paused slightly, surprised: it wasn't often that quick greeting became anything more, but it didn't take more than a moment for her to respond. Sheridan hummed softly into her mouth, searching for her hand and pulling her up into his arms. She gave in easily, her arms sliding around his neck as she leaned against his bare chest: he chuckled warmly, definitely pleased with the way this was going. The servants might not have gotten used to their morning ritual yet, he mused with a smile, but he and Delenn *definitely* had. She seemed as reluctant to let go as he was: when she finally did she tilted her head back to look at him, amusement sparkling in her eyes. "What was that for?" He grinned and ducked his head back down to hers, teasingly chasing her mouth: she drew back in surprise and he raised his eyebrows, trying to sound offended.

   "What, I'm not allowed to kiss my wife good morning now?"

   "There is something you want from me," she accused him playfully. He flashed a wolfish grin.

   "Oh, you bet there is..." His mouth sought hers again and she laughed softly, gladly reaching up to embrace him. She tasted of coffee; to his eternal delight they could just about get the real stuff to grow in Tuzanor's gardens, and now that they had a steady supply there was always a pot waiting at the breakfast table. He'd been drinking the stuff for damn near thirty years, though, and he'd never found any as good as Delenn for waking him in the mornings... waking more than his mind, too, he noticed with a grin - and so did she, pulling back with a knowing smile playing on her lips.

   "Mmm..." She brushed a hand across his cheek, playfully pushing back his hair. "There is definitely something you want from me."

   "Not a thing." He gave a mischievous chuckle, nuzzling playfully at the side of her crest; Delenn purred softly at the light caress, tilting her head to encourage him, and he lowered his voice slightly to whisper into her ear. "Well, not *from* you, exactly..."

   Her laugh was quiet and languid. "Do you have time for this?"

   "I've got the whole morning free," he reminded her with a suggestive grin. "And it's been a while, remember."

   "I know." She sighed softly, shaking her head in apology. "But we've both been so busy with everything, there hasn't been time..."

   "There's time now." He touched her cheek, catching her gaze. "I know it's been tiring these past few weeks, but we need some time together in all this. It's not enough just dancing around each other every morning and then rushing off to do everyone else's bidding." One arm tightened around her waist, his hand sliding back to stroke her crown. "I love you, Delenn." His voice lowered to make the distinction then. "I *want* to love you..."

   She smiled, her eyes sparkling in reply, toying idly with his hair. "Do you want to go back to bed?"

   "Ah." He gave her a deceptively nonchalant look, tapping the side of her crown lightly with a finger. "There's that little matter..."

   Delenn frowned. "What?"

   "Bed."

   She stood back, confused and looking a little hurt. "You do not want to go to bed with me?"

   "No!" He pulled her back into his arms, shaking his head quickly. "Good Lord, no, Delenn. I know we got used to spending time apart, but when have you ever known me not to want that?"

   She smiled briefly. "Never." Her eyes still held more than a glimmer of confusion. "But then what..."

   He took a deep inward breath. Now was the time, no matter how much he didn't want to ruin this rare moment together by disagreeing with her. Delenn never gave in unless she were in his arms - and even then it took a long while and a lot of patience, but at least now he had a fighting chance.

   "That... bed," he said slowly. The frown reappeared, tinged with surprise but more confusion now.

   "What is wrong with it?"

   He sighed. "That bed," he said carefully, "is going to be the death of me."

   She just looked at him. A little less confused, maybe, and growing a little more hurt - that he hadn't mentioned it before, or that he was rejecting her culture, he wasn't sure. He'd been especially careful not to step on any toes - particularly hers, he admitted - since they'd arrived here, knowing it was important to adjust to the sometimes strange culture around him... but God, it was such a little thing. Surely she didn't think he hated it here just because the *bed* was wrong? "Delenn," he started quickly. "Delenn, it's not that I don't-"

   "Do *not*," she said in a very low, very quiet voice, "speak that way. Ever."

   He blinked, taken aback by her vehemence. "Delenn, come on. It's only a bed-"

   "*Ever*," she reminded him fiercely. He stepped back, dropping his arms from around her with a sarcastic shrug.

   "Well, if that's how you feel about it, I guess I'm just gonna be sleeping on the couch for the next eighteen years." He shook his head in amazement, throwing his hand up in despair. "God, Delenn, I know you can be stubborn, but-"

   "I have told you." Her voice was tight. "I do not... want to speak of that. Not until..." She swallowed and looked down, turning away. "Not until it is necessary."

   *Oh, shit.* Trust him to completely screw up something as simple as this and not even realise it. Had it really been necessary to use that particular phrase. "Delenn, I'm sorry." He closed the distance between them instantly and laid his hands on her shoulders, gently rubbing her arms under the thin robe she threw on in the mornings here. "I didn't mean to say that. I didn't think... I'm sorry." She was tense, trying to relax as she nodded silently: he sighed and slid his fingers under the collar of her robe, lowering his head to kiss her neck. "I don't want you to think about that, not now." He nuzzled the hollow of her shoulder, pushing her robe down to follow it with kisses. "I just wanted us to have a nice, quiet morning together without any guards or ambassadors or VIPs interrupting us." The robe dropped to the floor: she turned to look up at him, tears shining in her eyes, and he smiled tenderly as he wiped them away. "It's been so long since we had that, Delenn. I need that."

   "I know." She leaned into his arms, looking embarrassed for a moment. "I'm sorry, John... I just don't know what I'm going to do without you, and with the baby..."

   "I know. Shh." He wrapped his arms around her, lovingly smoothing her hair as he kissed the top of her head. The physicians had given them the results of her first scans early in the week, and together with Londo's gift the reality that they were definitely having a child had brought that fading pain back to the fore. "It's okay. You'll both be okay, I promise. I'll be here, even if you can't see me. Hmm?" He saw tears well in her eyes again, however briefly, and tilted her head up to look at him. "I'm only alive now because of you, Delenn. I'm not leaving that easily."

   She smiled; a little sadly, the way she always did when they talked about this, but it was a start. One day they'd get past that pain, at least start toward accepting it, but not today. Today, he wanted to take her out into the gardens and make love to her in the sun for as long as he could manage it - which, given that they were both nearly naked, desperate to forget and that they hadn't had time to do more than kiss in over a week, was going to be at least as long until someone discovered they were missing. Just to prove how desperately he wanted her, he noted with some amusement that right now, he really wouldn't care if that eager little pair of house guards discovered them 'in flagrante delicto', as the saying went. It would certainly cause a few rumors, at least, and it might make their array of servants a little more wary of interrupting their lives at any given moment. No wonder, he reminded himself, that they hadn't been as active as usual with that many people crawling about in a house with very few doors to its name.

   "What would you say," he asked in a low and hopefully very suggestive tone, "to this little thought I had about you and me, someplace hopefully private," he rolled his eyes and her smile widened in amusement, "with nothing to do but sit for hours in all that lovely morning sun out there..."

   The light reached her eyes then, knowing what he was implying, and he reasoned for a moment that he had all the sunshine he could ever need in that smile. Maybe that bed wasn't so bad after all...

   And then again, as Delenn looked up at him with that beautiful smile and pushed the robe easily from her shoulders, maybe he'd just go with persuading her anyway.

   -----

   Given the purely scientific understanding of Minbar's place in its solar system, Sheridan would have forgiven anyone not having had the fortune to visit the more fertile areas of the planet for thinking that it would be cold enough to freeze in even at high summer. He, however, knew differently.

   The private gardens of their house were large, catering not just for the two of them but for their house guards and servants as well, but they didn't catch the heat of the sun until mid-afternoon and they'd both be well into meetings by then. The tour Tannier and Rastenn had given him had been quite thorough, however, and he'd made mental notes of a number of areas he wanted to visit with Delenn when he got the chance. Nice, secluded little places just like the one they sat in now, on the outskirts of the Ranger compound with the sun of early morning dappling the short, bluish grass underneath them. No one around but for the two of them, the crystal bridges of the city shining down in the valley, it was the perfect place for them to finally be alone.

   "I like this." Delenn lay on her side on the soft grass, her head propped on one hand and the other absently caressing his chest. "It's nice to be alone, even only for a little while."

   "Mmm." He turned his head from gazing up at the sky, smiling into her eyes. "One day, I'm gonna bring you up here for the whole day." She looked sceptical: he sat up to mirror her and rested his head on one hand, grinning. "I'll steal a flyer and some food and kidnap you right out from under the thumb of those stuffy diplomats down there." His arm tightened around her waist and he lay back, pulling her down onto his chest to whisper into her ear. "And I don't care *who* misses us, or who finds us up here."

   He meant that for now, too: they both heard it in his voice, and Delenn saw the suddenly unconcealed attraction in his eyes. It was never hard to notice, no matter how surprised she had been when it had first appeared and he had first taught her, truly as no other person could do, what it could mean to be Human. She had enjoyed it then, she remembered vividly, and it had only grown better through the years... she had known instantly why he had suggested this place, wondering if he knew how impatient she too had been growing with their private time recently. She usually felt his own irritation as soon as he walked into a room, but given the lengths he was taking this morning, she had obviously underestimated his displeasure at the sudden reduction of privacy in a more Minbari way of life. She did have to admit that she had grown used to their times together on the station being concealed from others, and perhaps she had been ignoring her Human side for the past week or so... Perhaps she had ignored more than her own Humanity, though, she realised ruefully. She couldn't imagine why, lying here now with his arms around her and his kisses trailing along her crown, they hadn't been doing this since they'd finally moved in. Even when they'd slept in on their first morning, the one chance they'd had to be completely alone, they'd been interrupted by over-eager servants wanting to serve them breakfast. She knew John wasn't used to that, even if he was trying to accept it... and she didn't know why she hadn't thought of how their need to be alone would conflict with living on Minbar again.

   "We should have done this before," she admitted softly. The morning was still quiet up here, and it seemed wrong somehow to invade that warm silence. He smiled.

   "I know. We have to make time in future." He lifted his head slightly, his gaze serious for a moment. "We need time to ourselves, Delenn. I know it's gonna be difficult now, and your people do things a little... differently..." He raised his eyebrows and she blushed very lightly, knowing what he meant. "But so do we, hon. You know they're not going to understand that, no matter how many Humans they've met before. It's not exactly easy to explain," he reminded her with a grin. Delenn smiled in amusement.

   "I know. They do not think that I..." she trailed off then and paused. Her people here saw her as pure Minbari, no matter her outward appearance: it was odd, she thought wryly, that she had wanted that for so long and now that she had it, she was finally beginning to admit that it wasn't entirely true. "They do not think that I am Human," she tried to explain. Sheridan chuckled, nodding as he shifted to nuzzle into her hair.

   "I've seen how they look at you, Delenn. I know what that means." He kissed the tip of her crown. "It's no bad thing, you know. We just have to make sure they understand... or maybe don't understand," he teased with a raised eyebrow. She nodded, ducking her head to hide a smile.

   "I think that would be better." Her expression was somewhat bemused. "I do not think they would be... comfortable... with the idea."

   "Not as comfortable as you, anyhow," he hinted with a suggestive grin. Delenn laughed warmly.

   "Did you really bring me all the way up here just for this?"

   He hoped he looked appropriately sheepish. "And to convince you that I *really* need to sleep flat once in a while."

   "Ah." The word held a hint of amusement. He sighed heavily.

   "It's really getting to be a problem, Delenn."

   She made a playfully impatient face. "John, it cannot be that bad. You managed perfectly well back on Babylon five, and here is no different."

   "It *is* different," he assured her urgently. "Look, Delenn, I don't want you to think I don't appreciate your customs or anything like that, because I really am starting to like living here, but..." He sighed heavily. "Can't you see it from my point of view? You're at least half Human, you manage *great* on a flat bed," he grinned suggestively and she couldn't help a slight smile at the compliment. "But I'm never gonna be Minbari, honey, no matter how much I like living here. This is one custom I just don't think I can handle for... as long as we're here," he finished a little awkwardly, aware that he had already hurt her with that once today. "I'm sorry. Really. I've tried..." He sighed at her expression, obviously reluctant to give in on something like this. "Just give me a chance to convince you, okay? Just one?"

   "This *is* why you brought me up here," she told him, only half-amused. He shook his head, sitting up to draw her into his lap.

   "No..." She looked at him and he winced inwardly. "Not completely," he admitted. He looked momentarily serious, his voice earnest. "I wanted to have some time with you, Delenn. Alone," he added with a boyish smile. She sighed patiently, lightly brushing a lock of hair from his forehead.

   "I will give you one chance to convince me." Her eyes sparkled. "But you will have to try very hard..." She barely finished the sentence before his mouth covered hers, smothering the words in a deep, passionate kiss and rocking her backwards onto the warm grass.

   Usually, after so long without managing to find time, their lovemaking was fast and intense: today, though, they had all morning to themselves and there was no way Sheridan was ending this one second earlier than she might finally demand. His hands found the clasp of her dress: she hadn't bothered with her Ambassadorial robes, choosing instead a simple dark blue, almost completely Human dress that reminded him somewhat of the 'uniform' she always wore aboard the White Star - but was considerably, to his relief, easier to remove without checking where his hands needed to be. Very useful, really, given that he was far more interested in kissing her than watching his own movements right now... and he was doing very well at it, too, from the soft moans of encouragement echoing in his mouth. Her fingers twined in his short hair: he hummed in response as her hand rested on his neck, pulling him more forcefully into the kiss and her tongue teasing his. He moved back, reluctantly, for just a moment to slide his hands between them: the look in her eyes was entirely too Human and he chuckled, pushing down her dress and lowering his head to nibble at the sensitive skin just above her collarbone.

   "I thought *I* was the one convincing *you*," he reminded her in amusement. She purred softly: he nuzzled against her neck, his short-cropped beard tickling her skin to make her laugh. She hadn't been sure about the affectation to begin with, he remembered, but he'd managed to convince her then too. It had taken a while, but once he'd put across the... benefits... of his choice, Delenn had actively refused to let him shave it off again. *You'll see this my way, too, honey,* he assured her privately as he sought out another remembered spot that made her squirm delightfully under his touch. No matter how long they went without making love, it seemed, he was never going to forget one inch of the stunning body beneath him. He knew, from a purely practical view, that Delenn was close to his age; pushing forty, at least, in Human years, but looking at her now-Human figure it was hard to believe she was less than at least twenty years his junior. She *easily* compared with Anna: he'd been surprised - exceedingly pleasantly, though - the first time he'd seen her completely naked, but he'd just about trained himself to remember now that in terms of being Human, she had been barely past puberty when they'd first met.

   Well, he remembered while she was still clothed, at least.

   Not exactly a situation he was in danger of seeing for at least a few hours now, though.

   "Mmmm...." The sound purring in her throat was lazy pleasure, her hands working absently under his shirt to caress his back. "Remind me... why we haven't done this before?"

   "I have *no* idea..." he murmured from between her breasts. "But I think... we should definitely reconsider our schedules from now on..."

   "Hmm.." He worked his way to a small, dark nipple, taking the tip in his mouth: her agreement was suddenly louder, and much less coherent given his practised pursuits. He'd been the one to teach her, years ago now, what physical passion could be; he'd been quietly amazed at how well they fit together, and Delenn had never been a submissive partner... not then and not now, her fingers working at the cuffs of his open shirt to discard it along with her dress.

   He continued to caress her nipple with his tongue, swirling around in slow, teasing circles before tugging gently with his teeth and listening with a smile to her answering moan of pleasure. He loved that sound - more than anything else in his life, when he was lying here in her arms and all the world that existed was the two of them. Let everything else wait if he could have that, if he could be here with her and feel her restless touch as he caressed her body. His kisses trailed lazily to her other breast, drawing one hand up her side to roll the abandoned nipple between his fingertips: Delenn hummed loudly in pleasure, one hand in his hair and the other covering his to encourage his attentions. He managed - just - to manoeuvre his free hand between them, long enough to shed his pants and boxers on the grass before laying a gentle hand on her thigh. Long, strong legs wrapped about his waist, rocking against him, and he moaned quietly at the suggestive shift of her hips beneath his. He lifted his head and kissed her, tenderly; a silent and unneeded reminder that he was ready for her - even more unnecessary, he noted with a grin, given the eager tilt of her hips that guided his already throbbing erection to her body.

   He slid into her easily, the mutual movement as practised as anything between them and smiling the way he always did at that wondrous sensation. Because she was still partly Minbari or not, he didn't know and hadn't bothered to find out, but it always felt *different* with Delenn... he couldn't explain it to himself, let alone to her, but somehow the look in her eyes said she knew the feeling - intimately. Her answering smile met his; one hand tightened on his back, sliding down to cup his buttocks and push him deeper into her as the other pulled him down into a passionate kiss.

   "Mmmm...." He smoothed dark hair back from her face, his fingers threading close to her crown and teasing the sensitive back ridge to make her moan into his mouth. "God, I missed you..."

   "I have been here," she reminded him lightly. He smiled and cupped her face in his palm.

   "I missed being inside you." He traced her lips softly with a fingertip, his eyes shining with arousal and sliding half-closed for a moment as he made the point with a long, lazy roll of his hips. "I always miss being inside you..."

   "Shhh..." She touched his lips with a finger, stretching back and pressing her hips against his. "You are here now," she reminded him with a suggestive smile in a languid tone. He grinned, biting gently under her jaw.

   "Have I mentioned today how much I love you?"

   "I imagine so." She smiled at his low chuckle, his warm breath tickling her throat.

   "Mind if I show you anyway?"

   "Mmm..." She tilted her head back, guiding his gentle thrusts with her hands on his back as he trailed kisses between her breasts. "Ohhh.... not at all..."

   "Good," he murmured around a darkened nipple. "I really think you're gonna like it..." His hand slid down her stomach, the other on her back and lifting her hips to guide her against his touch. She squirmed slightly, rocking against him as he found just *that* place to stroke her that he always seemed to have known... she moaned into his shoulder, encouraging that gentle, steady caress that made her lose all thought of anything but his wonderful touch and the comforting weight of his chest on her breasts as he thrust into her body. Minbari didn't do this, would never understand this, but oh Valen she was going to make sure that she and John had more time for it after today. She was inordinately glad he'd chosen this spot, because if he kept doing *that* he wouldn't be the only one who didn't care who found them...

   "Delenn?" His tone was a touch questioning: she hummed deep in her throat, still kissing his shoulder and not bothering to look up.

   "Hmm..."

   "Don't you think...." He hummed softly, lifting her hips just slightly with one hand to increase the pressure, "this would be much better in a bed..."

   She sighed, definitely with pleasure but sounding just a little exasperated now, and pushed her head back to look at him. "You are not going to leave this alone, are you?"

   "I think it's important. Don't you think our sex life is important?"

   She laughed quietly, brushing her fingers through his hair. "I think that is a somewhat odd question to ask me now, don't you?"

   "I'm not budging on this, Delenn." And he wasn't, much to her frustration now: physically not moving, still deep inside her and now suddenly completely still. There were times when she loved this, she reminded herself hopefully. Times when she wanted nothing more than to have him wrapped around her and buried deep in her body to prove that he was *here*, that they were together and he loved her...

   But now was not, definitely, *profoundly* not one of those times.

   "You don't fight fair," she told him spitefully, only half playing now. He chuckled at the admission, careful to keep himself still as he nuzzled under her hair to nibble at her ear.

   "And whose fault is that?"

   "John..." He still wouldn't move, despite her frustrated protests: Delenn was as strong as he, being half Minbari, but he'd manoeuvred her carefully and there was no way even she could lift his full weight without his cooperation. He wasn't moving, and he wasn't giving in, knowing as she did that any promise she made now would not be revoked afterwards. She might be Human in every way that mattered to them now, but she was still Minbari inside and Minbari didn't lie... no matter how tempted she was by her Human side at this instant, her composure discarded along with her Minbari robes and her body begging for him.

   "All right." He would only do this again and again until he got his way, and the combination of his little-boy-lost expression and his adamant refusal to continue loving her finally broke her down. "Yes, I can see why you do not like the bed. I see it very well right now," she added pointedly with just a hint of anger, letting him know he would not get away with this entirely. "I will... consider... requesting a replacement." She shifted her hips, pushing at him, hoping that was enough: he smiled.

   And stayed exactly, down to the atom, where he was.

   The sound that emerged from her throat was undeniably a growl: he chuckled and she turned her head, capturing his mouth in a demanding kiss to smother the suddenly irritating sound. He gave in to that much, at least: nothing more, however, to her intense impatience as he pulled away from her mouth and propped himself on both elbows over her; smiling tenderly, as if they were doing nothing more than sunbathing here on the hills. She scowled, his patience only irking her more with every passing second he refused release.

   "What is it that you want?"

   He smiled down at her again at that, and his voice was almost pleadingly hopeful. "I want to be able to do this in bed, Delenn." He touched her hair, his smile wistful and not amused now that he finally had her listening. "I want to make love to my beautiful wife, in *our* bed, in *our* home, without worrying I'm going to fall off the thing every time I move. I *don't* want to get so frustrated with the damn contraption that I stop doing the one thing I love most in the world, with the one person in my life who means everything to me." He smiled hopefully and laid a soft kiss on her mouth. "That's all, Delenn. Is it really too much to ask?"

   She should have known, she told herself silently with a rueful sigh, that he would manage to say something like that. And that, as always, she would be helpless to resist him when he spoke to her that way.

   "If I am to sleep in a Human bed for the rest of my life, I will require some significant compensation," she reminded him in what she hoped was an arch tone. He flashed her a boyish grin.

   "Oh, I can do that. You just say the word-"

   Delenn, without hesitation, pulled his head down to hers. "*NOW*," she hissed into his ear.

   He blinked at her fierce tone: drew back long enough to see the look in her eyes and winced ruefully.

   "I'm sorry, honey. I just wanted you to listen-"

   "Stop apologising." Her voice held the tone of a command: before he could retort with something equally snappy, her hands came up to twine in his short hair and she yanked his bearded face back to hers. "Start compensating."

   He laughed. "Well, since we're gonna be getting that new bed now, I guess we really should get down to practicing..." His voice lowered, his mouth covering hers with a sound that was half-laugh, half-moan as the fierce shift of her hips reminded him just where he had so unceremoniously halted their pursuits. "Oh, God... honey..."

   "You should not do that to me," she reminded him in a breathless whisper. He tightened his arms around her and a short groan echoed in her ear, his lips brushing her crest.

   "Ohhh, I'm not doin' it again..."

   A laugh echoed in the back of her throat, hearing his voice deepen and the words slur together against her hair the way they always did. Oh, she would miss this when he was gone... but he was here now, holding her and stroking her and kissing her crest, and the past and future disappeared under the passion of his touch. All that mattered now, as he quickened his rhythm and she met his fierce thrusting in a passionate counterpoint, was the love in his eyes and the feel of his body over hers...

   He watched her come, then: quicker than he'd planned and harder than he'd expected, given the pause he'd forced her to take, but the long and unrestrained cry of pleasure that came from her throat left him in no doubt that she was definitely happy with his idea of compensation. He wasn't too disappointed with it, either: pulled his mouth away from hers to let out a satisfied groan against her shoulder, still thrusting involuntarily into her even as his own orgasm washed over him. Delenn made a soft sound of encouragement, pushing her hips up to meet him: he smiled hazily, letting himself relax as he rubbed a slow, gentle finger against her clit, his other hand stroking her crown to coax her into release. She gasped, moaning loudly, all but crying as her head tipped back to shout with such intense pleasure that he was sure someone in the city must have heard.

   She sobbed very softly as she relaxed: he kissed her forehead, still lightly stroking the side of her crown and making slow, gentle thrusts against her, her own body rocking easily with his fading movements as she pulled in a shallow breath. Tears stood briefly in her eyes as she smiled back up to his grinning features, and a warm kiss brushed them away as she touched his cheek with a trembling hand.

   "John..."

   "Shh..." His kisses covered her face, himself still a little breathless and his reassurances more gasping laughter than coherent words. "Shh, shhh..." She was still shaking; he chuckled warmly and slid his hand from between them to capture hers. The other still gripped his back, holding him to her: he pulled in a deep breath and kissed her lovingly on the mouth, stroking her crest softly with the other hand. Delenn never liked his leaving her body: he knew why, didn't question it more than to reassure her that he was still close, that he wanted to be here as much as she needed him to be.

   Her touch was lighter now: he smiled tenderly and stroked her face, lowering his head to kiss her once more, softly and slowly before finally slipping out of her. Her eyes became wistful for a moment: he gave her another smile, assuring her he felt the same way before lifting her head carefully from the grass to kiss her again. She gave him a light, exhausted and almost playful push to one side: he rolled over onto the ground, snaking one arm around her waist to keep her with him.

   There was silence for a long while, save for still-heavy breathing and the light rustle of trees as the wind brushed across the hillside. Tuzanor had little wildlife of note: nothing to interrupt their quiet communion as Delenn laid her head low on his chest and closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face and her body still tingling from his attentions.

   "It's pretty up here." His voice was lazy, and she could hear him grinning even without moving to look up. She opened her eyes for a moment, taking a long, calming breath and nuzzling lightly into his chest.

   "Are you looking at the city?"

   "No," he answered honestly. Delenn lifted her head: she smiled, amused but more than a little pleased to find him gazing straight into her eyes.

   "Am I not pretty down there?"

   He chuckled and ran his hand down her side. "You're pretty everywhere, Delenn." He pulled her tighter to him again, caressing her back and lowering his head to kiss her hair. "Gorgeous, in fact."

   "We should be getting back," she reminded him absently. He shrugged and brushed back her hair, his breath on her neck as he traced it with kisses. "Mmm.... just let me know if the city explodes without us, okay?" Delenn shivered lightly, smiling at the tingling warmth that had not quite abandoned her yet.

   "I don't know if I will notice," she admitted with a smile. He grinned and tilted her chin up to capture her mouth for a kiss.

   "Just what I was aiming for."

   -----

   Sheridan stood in the doorway of the bedroom, dressed once again only in his boxers, looked at the bed - and smiled.

   He hadn't been expecting her to get it done this quickly: he should have done, really, knowing Delenn by now, but he'd been expecting to have at least one night to bid farewell to that irritating Minbari contraption. Not that he really minded, though, given the wonderfully inviting mattress staring back at him from the softly lit room.

   It had been another long day, after they'd finally prised themselves from the hilltops above the Anla'shok compound and come back down to reality: his meetings had all dragged on late, and he hadn't even had time for dinner before rushing off to placate yet another of the diplomatic troupe. Still, things were moving along, he reminded himself positively. He and Delenn still hadn't finished unpacking, the Alliance Ambassadors still refused to sign anything without taking two days to contact their governments, but he *had* managed to make love to his wife today. A number of times, in fact... that, above anything else, had to make the rest of the tedium worthwhile.

   She was sleeping now, unfortunately; not surprising given the late hour and their often conflicting schedules, but still he was a little disappointed that a repeat performance wouldn't be in order. She'd already proved herself perfectly willing, after all - *more* than willing, it had quickly become obvious. After ten days he should have managed to guess she would be as eager as he, and he had no doubt that they would, if their damned responsibilities hadn't so rudely interrupted, still be up on that warm, secluded hill above the compound doing the wild thing far into the night.

   As it was, though, he supposed they'd just have to settle with the bed.

   He'd been a little surprised at being able to persuade her so quickly - hardly easily, given how wonderfully exhausting it had been - but he mentally noted that if he ever needed something from Delenn, then at least he knew the way to go about it. And he still had a lot more places he wanted to try out... including that lovely, inviting bed, of course. At least Delenn's reluctance hadn't turned out to be anything too profound: he knew the beliefs that went with the rituals of sleep, knowing that Delenn had had a hard time relaxing into his own bed at first, but he was sure she would have mentioned before if it had been that much of a problem for her. She was half Human, after all, and she was certainly able to relax into Human customs far more readily than he could adapt to Minbari ones. Now all they had to do was find another time when their schedules didn't clash, and they both managed to get back to the house without four hours of each other...

   He shook his head firmly in admonishment at himself, shrugging the robe from his shoulders and looking back at Delenn with a knowing smile. Yes, they had difficulties - but all in all, life was coming along nicely. That was the most important thing.

   He arranged his robe idly next to hers and pulled the doors half-closed, reminding himself with a sudden grin that he'd have to get used to shutting them completely in a few years' time. The thought of their child brought a familiar pain that he hurriedly pushed away, drawing back the loosened covers on his side of the bed to slide in beside his sleeping wife. The mattress was cool, close to refreshing after the warmth of the night air, and ohhhh, he was finally comfortable! He was never going to lie down on a Minbari bed again, he vowed silently. Not even if his life depended on it, as tradition insisted it did. This was it for him, he was not getting another bed for as long as he lived... and despite her continued reluctance on that score, Delenn at least didn't seem to mind the reward of his persistence. He glanced sideways, propping himself on one elbow to study her sleeping features for a moment. As calm and still as she had been in her own bed, Delenn always seemed to relax more when she slept like this. She lay on her side, half-facing the other wall: as he leaned close she rolled over, one hand instinctively searching the covers for his presence. He smiled absently and placed his hand under hers; she smiled in response, her eyes still closed, but the soft play of her lips told him she was waking.

   Oh, yes, life was definitely coming along nicely.

   [END]

 

 *****

 

 

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